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Action on Tumblr Takes on Trump's America

A bevy unsettling things have happened in the past month. From Trump taking leadership to Facebook's issues with fake news, social media users have sat pretty observing the wheeling circus of events, unable to have legitimate debates about goings-on. There is a gaping hole in social media platforms. Where can an informed person go to speak with others about political and social issues without having to worry about offending their Facebook friends or fall prey to trolls?

Never fear, Tumblr has carved out a space for people to have real, actionable conversations. Action on Tumblr is a hub created to be a sounding board over which people can speak about current issues, the state of the world, or air their concerns about the future:
... we'll be handing the megaphone to the marginalized and letting them speak for themselves. We'll be providing venues for you all to connect with each other and become your own collective agents of change. We'll be listening to you and supporting you. Whatever we can do to help you determine the future of the world you live in, we'll be doing it. We all need to work together, and we need to work fast. When you're ready to get to work, or if you're already making action happen, be sure to post about it and tag it #takeaction on Tumblr.
With 555 million active users, Tumblr ranks just ahead of Instagram with 500 million users. An overwhelming majority of the 19 million U.S. American users are between 25 and 34 years old. Those pesky, socially conscious millennials are at it again; stirring the pot and addressing key issues while older generations idly stand by.

Popular Tumblr feature Answer Time, a Q&A aspect over which people can can converse with platform users, has been rebranded for Action on Tumblr. Issue Time, the rebrand, follows the same Q&A format, but focuses on connecting users with experts, advocates and other individuals with compelling stories (i.e. each other). If you're familiar with Reddit, Answer Time and Issue Time are similar to an Ask Me Anything (AMA). Some trending issues at the time of writing are abortion access and reproductive rights, the impact of voter ID laws on people of colour, and LGBTQ rights.


Candidates for Issue Time undergo a lengthy selection period, anywhere from two weeks to a month. The long vetting process is likely due to the reach that individual will have and the potentially inflammatory questions they must answer. An Issue Time speaker must be able to answer user questions with valuable information, some of which may concern clinical or medical topics.

Victoria McCullough, social media impact and public policy manager at Tumblr, said in an interview with Mashable, "We have a very woke crowd on Tumblr. We saw a lot of activity in that community over the election, and have since we've been around. What we wanted with Action was to try to add a little more volume to that conversation by creating space."

Darth Trump

Shortly after Trump's election to office, reports of harassment, hate crimes, and harmful rhetoric have swept the nation. Seen in schools and elsewhere, the future of the great American nation is plagued with uncertainty; the only sure thing is documented rise in cases of harassment towards women, people of colour, immigrants, and those within the LGBTQ community. In the past, Tumblr has been the grassroots solution for social movements like Black Lives Matter. Action on Tumblr is not only for filling the halls of the internet with resounding voices, McCullough said that it is meant to bridge the gap between online activism and real-life actions, just as it has with previous causes. Tumblr's headquarters in New York City have played host for social organistaions' meetings, gatherings, and talks, namely for Ladies Get Paid and Social Cinema. About real-world movements, McCullough said, "Whether we're hitting the road or we're here at Tumblr, we're giving some more thought to how we can bring action to folks in real life."

Proactive people are encouraged to share their personal contributions with the hashtag #takeaction. Ever a proponent of open dialogue, Tumblr's Ask Box allows users to directly ask questions of others and has been absorbed into Action on Tumblr.

One issue that has proven itself detrimental is confining oneself to participation within a community of like-minded people. Choosing not to venture outside of familiarity means that people are exposed only to similar viewpoints. Is Tumblr's social hub simply another echo chamber for the socially conscious? McCullough told Mashable that she had given a lot of though to that question because, following Trump's election, "it was so clear that social media could have a greater impact by making sure we're not being the echo chamber." While a large majority of Tumblr is made up of millennials, 1.5 million U.S. American users are over 55, a vastly underwhelming number when compared to Facebook's 18.4 million users aged 55-64. Issue Time is the place to feature people who are of dissimilar mindsets, who can shed light on differing opinions, who may not need to be intimately familiar with Tumblr to make a difference. Hopefully, that aspect can be used to break the barrier between "them" and "us" on the social platform.

Understanding Tumblr

Tumblr as a social platform is somewhat hard to describe. First and foremost, it is a blog. In addition to traditional content (text with pictures/videos and hyperlinks) any type of media can be uploaded, either as original content or imported from other websites. Things like photos/videos, quotes, links, chats, and audio are submitted as standalone posts without textual clutter. Created in 2007, Tumblr was highly visual from the start, allowing users to blog in videos, pictures, and GIFs before they became a standard of communication. Visual expression set Tumblr apart. Not simply a blogging outlet, Tumblr incorporated a social aspect with likes and reblogs (posting someone else's content with credit).

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver). Follow her @Songbird_Jacqui

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Action on Tumblr Takes on Trump's America Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, December 16, 2016 Rating: 5
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