Against the Pop Culture Nostalgia

I mean, the stuff that’s going on right now is insane, and we need people to be responding to it. If I can’t hear the present or the future in culture, I feel like we’re doomed to repeat the past forever. We’re not opening up that kind of mental space we need to move forward. It’s like that Mark Fisher idea of capitalism—it’s easier to imagine death than life after capitalism. That’s how I feel when I just see things like Stranger Things on repeat all the time. I get it, that stuff is fun to watch, and I also like ’80s movies, you know what I mean? There’s a time and a place for that. But when all of culture feels like that, it makes me nervous.

Holly Herndon – On collaborating with machines and humans

This from Holly Herndon is on point. Maybe I can’t fully get this because I was out of that loop in sense of both time and geography but similar things happening around here creates the same reactions from me too. Something about all this nostalgic stuff feels problematic to me and I think Holly clearly explains it why.

It feels escapist. Instead of dealing with what we have right now, all of this is an attempt to return so-called better times. Which, if you push it too hard, can easily turn into a mindset which wants to make stuff great again. And we all know nothing was ever great before and it’s just a shortcut for many reactionary stuff. We all know who are the poster boys of this pop culture reactionary movements *ahem Gamergate ahem* and what they actually want. And how far they can go for their desires to recreate those “great times.”

I don’t know. Maybe I’m overthinking this and it’s all just simple fun. But, like Holly says above, when you start to see it everywhere something feels off.

“Being Tumblr”

beign-tumblr

(You can see whole conversation and the green-text which uses the quote here.)

This really made me think. Not just someone describing a person through a social network she uses but everyone else (including me) understands what he meant. Of course you can’t tell exactly what “someone being tumblr” means but most of us have an image about that.


We have some other kind of adjectives close to that like “tumblr girl”, “redditor” and “/b/tards” and we all have images about those adjectives but I guess this is another level. This is not a nickname for someone who uses a website/social network, you’re calling her exactly what she uses/visits. And everyone else understands.


I know some websites creates a subculture around them and gets bigger and bigger with it but this looks different to me. Tumblr is mainly a blogging platform and there are users all around the world and they’re all using Tumblr with different purposes. But they’re just “tumblr users” in this case, they can’t “be tumblr”. You can have a Tumblr account but you can’t be tumblr.

There’s a tumblr persona and you just can’t create an account and be a part of it. You have to transform yourself to be tumblr, if you’re not naturally a tumblr. Wait a minute, how can someone be a natural tumblr?


The more I think about this, I feel like I should dig this more. But right now, this is just a quick note to begin.


UPDATE (5:53pm)

After publishing this post, something flashed in my mind and found this. I strongly recommend you to watch/read it.

At that talk, Jay Springett gives the best explanation so far to “being tumblr”. Stacks, like Facebook and Google, turning more and more into states and we’re getting used to it. Being tumblr turns exactly into “being citizen of a country”. Every country has images in our minds (may call stereotypes if you wish) and when you say “she’s tumblr”, our brains gets this signal similar as “she’s Turkish”.

About the difference between “a tumblr user” and “tumblr”. It definitely fits in that idea too. You can take, for example someone from England goes Italy as a tourist or starts to live there. She never can be “Italian”, she’ll be just a “tourist from England” or “Italy citizen”.


I guess I found the missing piece on “being tumblr” problem but now I have to dig into “Stacks and States” problem. There’ll be lots of fun (I hope).