In this technological age, the days of distant pen-pals, connected by handwritten letters exchanged via the postal system are something of a rarity. Today’s replacement of such communication takes the form of “social networking” AKA Facebook, Twitter and the popular blogging site Tumblr. Carefully thought-out paragraphs have evolved into status updates, 140 character tweets and posts with streams of notes. Okay, so times are always changing and will always continue to do so, but have you ever paused for breath and considered the effects these sites are having on the generations they are consuming?
A growing number of the adolescent population have jumped aboard the Tumblr bandwagon. For those of you who are not familiar, Tumblr is an easy to use blogging system whereby anyone who signs up is granted free access to share multimedia in various forms via the web. In simpler terms, you are able to express whatever you want as artistically or eccentrically as you want, whenever you want. Tumblr is now a thriving micro-blogging service.
It terms of its use, I cannot help but notice the more outrageous and at times slightly disturbing pages. What is worrying is that the bloggers are teens of only school age, sharing powerful images which could be extremely detrimental to their minds and those of their Tumblr followers. It is really appropriate for teenagers as young as 13 or 14 be a keyboard-length away from images of extreme self-harming, even suicide? I am all for raising awareness, but I’m not entirely sure this is ALWAYS the motive. Could this not trigger negativity within the innocent minds of these youngsters that would not have been there if it wasn’t for this?
On the flip side is the emergence of blogs devoted to the re-posting of images of size zero models and seemingly flawless women. Young girls re-blog in admiration and wish they looked like them. They tweet away about their desire to be a “Tumblr girl” and young boys paw over their “perfection”. This is a lot more exposed and uncontrolled than the models in the glossies on our supermarket shelves, therefore is unloading a greater pressure on the current teenage society to look a certain way – a more poignant pressure than ever before.
Aware of over-dramatising this, it isn’t all doom and gloom. More and more are immersing themselves in this world and yes, it can all be a bit of fun and creativity. I often find myself curled up with my laptop and a latte gazing at magical shots of New York, taste bud-tantalizing dishes that can only be described as “food p*rn” and shoe collections which make my credit cards cry. Dreaming of an indulgent lifestyle, I’m aware that all this does is fuel an expensive taste and an ambition for luxury, but I find it somewhat comforting after a long day of tackling trigonometry (which may as well be a foreign language…).
There is no harm in dreaming, who doesn’t like to do it? The harm comes in the extremes, the idolisation of the unrealistic. As long as you are aware of that, it’s great! It is the innocent young girls who have their self-esteems shattered who are vulnerable. This world of re-blogging is nothing but a fantasy. All teenagers need to bear this in mind and think before they re-post a shot of a tanned bombshell with a fooling “thigh gap”.