Is Tumblr really a personalized experience?
// Katherine Alpen

It is way too easy to get lost in Tumblr. You just keep scrolling through an unending stream of pictures and information related to any subject you can think of but often don’t really need to know about.
There are a myriad of subjects to choose from, but one of the most addictive are the fashion pages. They overflow your senses with what you want and can’t afford but can only dream of. Of course, not every person on Tumblr is using it for style ideas or any type of help for that matter; there are bloggers and writers that post, and repost things of more importance than the colour of a scarf, but the dangerous side of all this influence is a commercial one.
When you search “fashion” in Tumblr looking for possible pages to add to your dashboard, the first page gives you 68 choices, and of those, 28 are name-brand pages. It’s like a marketer’s dream come true: designers and manufacturers can set up a Tumblr page, and like a soap-box to the masses, they are immediately saturated with eager listeners ready to observe, re-post, and share their product. It is the illusion of personalized style.
People asking complete strangers what size shoe they think is best, play-by-play fashion updates, and a constant stream of new rail-thin models is overwhelming to the fashion-conscious person. This is Tumblr’s new vantage point on the industry: by the time you see something you like, get out, buy it, wear it with the right shoes and get congratulations from your friends for the fashion sense you don’t actually have, there will already be four other posts up with items more current than the ones you just bought.
But is there really so much information, or just the illusion of it? Tumblr’s structuring allows re-blogging, meaning pictures, information or articles are circulated faster and more times. This can create the illusion that there are a lot more sources than originally thought. With major fashion names adding tens of thousands of images a day, does anyone ever need to post something original?
In a magazine, there is a limit to the amount of content in each issue, but online, content is unlimited. In a regular magazine with 120 pages saturated in sex, the objectification of women and men from ads on every second page can be a lot. Tumblr is really a more efficient method for a highly criticized industry to just keep on displaying unrealistic body ideals.
A recent Louis Vuitton post made on Tumblr featured an extremely thin, sallow-cheeked model, sporting a box-like black dress, standing on a block with a number like an item up for auction. The fashion industry is notoriously known for rake-thin models, and Tumblr is just a newer, more efficient platform from which to attain that influence.
In a world that is trying to shift away from that unhealthy perception of beauty, Tumblr’s influence on the users it attracts seems like a gigantic leap backward. Every major fashion name is on the bandwagon, along with personal pages for well-known models like Coco Rocha to show their latest most glamorous photo shoots. And usage is on the rise, growing from 4.2 million users in July 2010 to 13.4 million in July 2011. Understandably, Tumblr’s demographic is heavily skewed toward younger generations, with 50 percent of the site’s visitors under age 25.
Tumblr creates a platform that is a brand’s best friend: an online magazine with thousands of possible formats, alterable to your own preferences, with never-ending information, no printing cost, a huge following, constantly reposted information, and the illusion of personal preference and gratification when it comes to what you see and use online.

//Katherine Alpen, writer

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