Why I hate Tumblr (and expect to lose followers)
Everyone on this website talks about “privilege” and “oppression” and while I’m totally down with social awareness, I feel like a lot of the ~social justice~ on Tumblr is only angled towards the people who are here to bring it up. We discuss racial issues, because Tumblr is racially and culturally diverse. We discuss food politics, because Tumblr has a lot of vegans and omnivores alike. We discuss trans issues, we discuss gay politics. We discuss politics in general.
But I can’t tell you how many pictures of street kids I know I keep finding and that’s just the start of my issue. When I was living outside, people would come take pictures of me and my friends without asking all the time. Just because you don’t have the privilege of privacy doesn’t mean you don’t deserve respect. Just because I have to wander the streets, sleep behind highways, just because I can’t make myself totally invisible for you doesn’t mean you and your yuppie friends, who wouldn’t even so much as say “Hi” to me before snapping pictures, have a right to make a joke of my life by posting stupid shit about me on the internet. It doesn’t mean that when you write about me in your blog about political justice it’s acceptable for you to talk about “the indigent” or “transients” or “the derelict” (none of those terms I’m comfortable with, by the way) like we’re not people.
- You and I are not as different as you think. Before I lost everything, I had a fiance, an apartment, a car and an 80-hour-a-week corporate job. I’d grown up in abject poverty and “made something of myself.” Then, in just six weeks after losing my job, I had nothing but what I could carry on my back.
- Don’t exclude me from your movement. Don’t imply I’m too stupid/ignorant to be politically active or aware. I’m not lazy or stupid. I can’t say I’m sure whether or not being a POC and being often perceived to be female has really helped, either, but even in POC or feminist circles, when people didn’t know I was homeless I’d hear what they really thought about us. I’d hear about how we were leeches and made them look bad by trying to affiliate ourselves. Besides this, don’t erase us. Homeless rights ARE human rights. Homeless issues ARE equality issues.
- For fuck’s sake, don’t assume that everyone with internet access is as privileged as you. I’ve been on tumblr and several other sites while homeless. How? It’s called your local library. It’s very easy in almost and place to get free internet access 1-2 hours per day. Stop shaming people online for “not eating healthily” or for not being veg*n. Oh, you and your social work training program went on a dumpster diving field trip? Do you want a cookie for having to slum it a few hours? Before you try to act like you know what it’s like to live on the streets, you need to do it for a lot more than a day or a week. You can’t fake that with your outreach project or your activist this or that. When you have no safety net, you can try it again and call me.
And if I sound angry, know that I am aware and think my anger is fully goddamn deserved. Yes, my life has gotten better since then. I’m still only one wrong turn from being back out on the streets again. Companies don’t like to hire people with gaps in employment. Without a job, you can’t afford to live on your own, generally. To get disability, you need a doctor who you’ve been paying for visits with to write you a recommendation. To pay for visits you need money. To get money, even though your body is in constant pain, you need to work…You see, this is not something I can just file away in my volunteer work folder. This is something I have to actively fight the rest of my life.