Signing off Tumblr for the final time


Graphic by Alan Li


A little over a year and a half ago, I signed off of Tumblr and never signed back on.

I wasn’t Tumblr famous or anything, but I did have several posts with thousands of reblogs. Deactivating my account was hard, but it was worth it for my mental health.

This sounds pretty counterintuitive on the surface. Tumblr seems to be one of the only social media platforms where conversations about mental health are embraced. It’s not as much of a show as it is on Facebook and it’s not taken as a joke like on Twitter, for example.

However, I found that Tumblr was romanticizing what I was feeling and that was hurting me.

So many people had mental illnesses on the site that it began to seem cool to be depressed. It was hip to have anxiety. We were a community and everyone wanted to fit in.

When I was lowest in my life, I didn’t need someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay and tell me to take a day where I listened to Coldplay and have a nap. That’s what I found was coming out of my time on Tumblr.

I needed someone to tell me to get my shit together and stop throwing my energy into aesthetic posts about Harry Potter characters to validate myself to strangers.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are plenty of resources to help you that don’t include you staring at a screen for hours, waiting for your post about your beating heart to get a reblog.

A quick Google search shows that I’m not alone in my feelings towards the website.

An article published by Babe also points out that some mental illnesses are “trendy” on Tumblr. Depression and anxiety can be seen as “cute” and people found solace in their rain-on-windowpane aesthetics and Mark Twain quotes about being sad.

The article also points out that personality disorders, for example, are barely mentioned at all. Add eating disorders, OCD, learning disabilities, etc. to that list and the “community” that purports to be so accepting starts to fall a little thin.

And then comes the comparing of mental illnesses. For high school me, seeing people take “self-care” days that involved cocoa and a comfy blanket made me think that I was doing my own self-care wrong when it was a struggle to make myself eat some days.

According to the Mental Health Association, there are many ways to help deal with mental illness. In their top ten tips, they recommend eating healthy, keeping active and taking a break.

A lot of their other tips seem to fit the Tumblr community, but these three, in particular, are things I always saw joked about on the website — usually in a “cutesy” way.

It’s funny to joke about how you got two hours of sleep, have eaten nothing but a slice of pizza for the last few days and don’t remember the last time you left your room, right? Because you’ve been on Tumblr for days!

“Consuming” is the best word I can think of to describe it. It can be hard not to become completely surrounded by mental illness when you put so much time into it.

If you’re not being authentic with how your illness actually is and you’re just trying to keep up with the trends on the website, the community is doing more harm than good.

Furthermore, a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine proved that there is a strong correlation between social media use and perceived social isolation in teens and young adults. The more time they spent on social media, the worse it got.

Between coding, reblogging, scrolling through your feed and actually making posts, Tumblr is one of the most time-consuming social media platforms I can think of.

The last thing that teens and young adults with mental illnesses need is more perceived isolation.

Tumblr did a lot for me; I learned Photoshop, coding and really picked up photography because of the website. But there are plenty of other more useful places to use those skills.

If Tumblr helps you with your mental health, really and truly, I’m happy that you’ve found a community. But don’t trick yourself thinking that acknowledgment is the same thing as support like I did for so long.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are plenty of resources to help you that don’t include you staring at a screen for hours, waiting for your post about your beating heart to get a reblog.

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