A few months ago, Laura U., a typical 16-year-old at an international school in Paris, sat at her computer wishing she looked just like the emaciated women on her Tumblr dashboard. She pined to be mysterious, haunted, fascinating, like the other people her age that she saw in black and white photos with scars along their wrists, from taking razor blades to their skin. She convinced herself that the melancholic quotes she was reading—“Can I just disappear?” or “People who die by suicide don’t want to end their lives, they want to end their pain”—applied to her.
Among Tumblr’s 140+ million blogs, social communities form around specific topics: music, fashion, photography, and also kinds of disorders. Months ago Laura was part of one such community, scrolling through hundreds of photographs on Tumblr that evoke negative emotions through art and call it depression. Black and white photographs of mystical emaciated women who stare off into the distance put psychological torment and beauty on the same page, and quotes like “So it’s okay for you to hurt me, but I can’t hurt myself?” and “I want to die a lovely death,” try to justify self-harm. All this is at the tip of anyone’s fingertips: anyone can search tags like “self-harm,” “depression,” or “sadness,” and find thousands of blogs with a similarly distorted vision of what it means to be depressed.
Read more. [Image: Nikko Russano/Flickr]
On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The case centers on whether aggregate limits on donations to campaigns are constitutional, an extension of the legal logic behind the infamous Citizens United decision.
Before the Court hears arguments, though, the justices will have already consulted something unique: A legal document predicated on a Tumblr. According to Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard Law professor filing the brief, it’s the first time a Tumblr has been used in a Supreme Court filing.
Read more. [Image: Charlie Loyd]
Hot Dog Legs has been called the “Tumblr of the Summer,” “genius,” and “your new favorite meme,” but it’s also a disturbing outgrowth of the thinspiration and body dysmorphia issues that proliferate on Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. For those who aren’t familiar, the question posed by Hot Dog Legs is whether the pair of tan cylinders on display is “Are they hot dogs or legs”? Viewers are invited to browse through pictures of legs that look like hot dogs, or hot dogs that look like legs.
Charlene Corpus, a 35 year-old San Diego sales analyst, likes running errands wearing a grey hoodie emblazoned with the words “The Angry Therapist” in bright orange Helvetica.
“I like your sweatshirt. What’s The Angry Therapist?” a bank teller once asked her.
“He’s my therapist.”
The back of the sweatshirt, reads, in the same bold orange lettering: “Dream big. Listen more. Talk less. Eat clean. Get strong. Forgive often. Love hard. Live well.”
That blend of common sense, positivity platitudes and new-age wellness trends hardly sounds angry, but the title of the blog isn’t meant so much to connote its content so much as it is to provoke, and attract a young, Internet-savvy generation to psychotherapy.
The Angry Therapist is John Kim a 40-year-old Korean-American Los Angeleno who bills himself as the world’s first licensed Marriage Family Therapist with a “public” practice treating patients through a “growing online community.” He believes he is the first ever licensed therapist to build his entire client base from patients he first met on the Internet.
Read more. [Image: John Kim]
The amazing Tumblr Lucille and Mitt has been around for some time, but it’s only now coming to our attention. The idea is simple: Superimpose actual quotes from Mitt Romney, the teetotaling Republican candidate often accused of being out of touch with ordinary people, over pictures of Lucille Bluth, the vodka-swilling, laughably out-of-touch Arrested Development character. The results are surprisingly convincing.
[Images: Lucille and Mitt]
“Some people seem to think that getting acquired should be the highest aspiration for an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley,” ur-investor Vinod Khosla recently wrote. With “some people,” though, he was being generous: Most people, it seems, seem to think that the end point of starting up is acquisition — ideally, by Facebook, by Apple, by Google. The acquisition assumption means that there’s a Valley full of incredibly smart, driven people who are founding things simply to sell them to giants. And though that may not be the most inspiring reason to start a company, it may well be the most practical. This little Wikipedia page — “List of acquisitions by Google" — is a testament to the ongoing enticement that the dream of acquisition represents.
Now, though, there’s another page that speaks to the same idea: the “We’ve Been Acquired!" Tumblr. The site, launched this afternoon, ingeniously aggregates the many acquisition announcements — posted to Twitter, to Tumblr, to websites — that drive tech culture from its roots.