Tumblr is the Devil
Over breakfast this morning I was having a lively chat with a colleague about our respective requirements for our formal students and apprentices (and by formal student, I do not mean someone who signs up to take one of my online classes, but rather someone who has formally contracted with me to be taught within one of the lineages I carry). My friend was surprised when I told her that one of the first things I do now is require my formal students and apprentices to delete any tumblr accounts they may have and to stay off tumblr completely for the duration of their training. I used to make this a strong suggestion, but over the last year it’s become pretty non-negotiable for me.(1)
Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to watch those ensconced in the tumblr community interact devotionally. I’ve seen the nonsense coming endlessly out of these sites (more so than on any other type of social media including Facebook and Twitter): the reification of pop culture as proper polytheism, the often complete lack of critical thinking, the shallowness, and the lack of reverence (and let’s not forget the tumblr wives of Loki…or Kai lo ren because you know, over there, they’re basically the same thing anyway. Sorry Tom Hiddleston. Sorry). I think that last – reverence or lack thereof– is what made me finally come to my decision: pretty much without exception of those I have personally experienced, I find that the tumblr pagan and polytheist communities encourage a lack of reverence.
Nor do I mean that this is something that is occasionally a side effect of participating in tumblr, I mean it is actively encouraged. The result is people who cannot maintain themselves in sacred space without feeling the need to crack jokes, to lesson the ambiance of reverence, to reduce to the lowest common denominator, the protocols of veneration.
I want to be very clear about something, and this is something that I try very hard to lay out to prospective students and apprentices before taking them on via contract, those of us working in our respective polytheisms – in my case Heathenry and cultus deorum, a little Starry Bull on the side—are not seeking to develop in ourselves the outlook, perspective, worldview, ethics, and morality of our current popular culture. We are looking to develop a polytheistic worldview in tandem with how our ancestors, born and raised in polytheistic cultures, would have approached the Gods, ancestors, and devotion. We are seeking to ensconce ourselves in a polytheistic perspective, to develop polytheistic ethics, and to grow in reverence and awareness of our proper place before the Gods. Anarco-leftists and co. , tumblr, and others can rail and rant and rave about that all they want. We will not be moved. We are not seeking to create ourselves in a post-enlightenment, post modernist image. We’re seeking to restore the values and traditions of our ancestors. It’s precisely the cultivation of those values and that worldview that I think tumblr most effectively damages. It panders to the populist voice of the lowest common denominator and to be clear: lie down with dogs, as the saying goes, one does wake up with fleas.
I believe (as did Aristotle) that it is important to cultivate relationships that encourage right behavior, that help us develop habits of reverence, of piety, of excellence in our devotional work. These things are habits. They are things that lie within our control, that we may develop or not. It is very, very difficult not to be affected by those with which we associate every day, and most of us are online an awful lot. I would venture to say that for the average pagan or polytheist, the online venues that we each frequent are a vital part of our community experience – sad but true, and true for almost all of us. I hear from people every day who are spread out across the country, across the globe who have no one else in their immediate area who is also a polytheist, or if they do, it may not be their particular polytheistic religion. It’s natural to want fellowship. I think we just have to be rather discerning about where we find it and one thing that tumblr won’t cultivate is just that: discernment.
- I realize that there are artists who use tumblr solely for artistic sharing and such, and normally I would say ‘sure, that’s fine’ but more and more I think with a level of pollution such as I typically see on tumblr, it’s best to just cut that shit off cleanly, and not allow any means whereby it might infect. Any doorway is a possible hazard. So apologies to my artist friends out there!
They folks, for those interested, the piety possum buttons are available. I’m charging $3 a button, plus $2 shipping and handling. I’ll have them up on etsy soon but in the meantime, feel free to contact me at Krasskova@gmail.com if you want one. There is a limited supply.