Social Media

Finding Joy in Tumblr

Social media can be vicious and a lot to wade through. Between political posts on Facebook, animal face filters on Snapchat, and arguments with strangers on Twitter, it’s hard to find a break. Personally, my social media refuge is Tumblr.

I (re)started over on Tumblr over a year ago, with a fresh blog that I swore would only contain images and quotes that truly made me happy or inspired, or that sparked something in me. I highly recommend setting similar “boundaries” for your own blog. Not necessarily hard and fast rules, but at least a theme. (And if you find yourself with a multitude of themes you want to dive into, there’s always the option to add blogs to your main account,)

What makes Tumblr a haven for me? First of all, it’s easy to choose blogs to follow (and unfollow as needed) without the drama of “how many followers do I have.” Yes, there are certain sects of the site that are heavy on this topic, but you don’t have to be. Even I follow some of these people, but it’s easy to scroll past their networking posts.

The second reason I love Tumblr is because of the lack of hate. I am by no means saying it doesn’t exist, but if you choose the right blogs, you can avoid negativity. I’d say that 98% of the text/asks posts I see on Tumblr are positive, generally quotes or notes of encouragement. So far, the only hate I’ve seen are on fitness blogs, but the bloggers themselves are great at staying positive and letting insults roll off their back.

Third, it’s incredibly relaxing to scroll through and find images to reblog. I love being on the couch with my tablet or laptop, looking at pictures, videos, and text posts. It can be thought-provoking, or it can be inspiring, or happiness inducing. Again, you have the ability to choose what you want to see on your dashboard. While this is true for all social media, it feels especially true on Tumblr. (Ex. on Twitter, I follow people whose tweets I enjoy, but sometimes certain topics they’re passionate about just make me mad. On Tumblr, people tend to blog in themes, making it less likely I’ll stumble into rage.)

Finally, my all time favorite part of Tumblr is the visual representation of the self you create.┬áIt’s like constantly adding art to a museum of images you love, and then letting the world visit that museum. As the curator, the visitors get a glimpse of what inspires you, what speaks to you, but even then, it’s just a layer. You know why that picture of the girl lying in bed called your name; your anonymous museum visitors can’t get to that layer of you.

Ultimately, that’s the beauty of Tumblr for me–the creativity and personal discovery that becomes possible. It can be so much more than a roll of pictures and quotes, videos and gifs.

Recently, I opened up my older Tumblr (from a few years ago) in archive mode, and just started scrolling. The aesthetic wasn’t entirely different, but there were distinct changes in what I reblogged and even the frequency. The dominant color was pink, whereas the dominant color in my current Tumblr is probably closest to white/cream. It was fascinating to see which pictures I had chosen to add to my Tumblr, what represented how I was feeling or what I wanted in life. It was only three years ago, but it felt like I was looking at the blog of a person I no longer knew. I’ve grown since then, and my tastes have changed. Yet those archive posts are like a snapshot of that young woman, and I can go back and rediscover her at any time.

Like any platform, Tumblr has its pros and cons. With the right tweaks, however, it can be a creative sanctuary and a comforting place to paint a picture of yourself.


Sims 4: A Writing Tool

Writing has been a passion of mine for many years. In those years, I’ve discovered ways of finding inspiration for stories and characters, even when writer’s block is very much present. Right now, one of the easiest ways for me to dig up story ideas is to play Sims 4.

First of all, in any given household, you can have up to 8 characters. I’m generally concerned with the interactions of only 2-3 characters at a time, so household management isn’t an issue. (I will admit to having one Sim in the household who is wholly responsible for cooking, cleaning, repairing, and gardening–it makes things so much easier.)

Second, Sims have so many customizations, from their appearances to personality. I tend to have an imagined appearance in my head, and that doesn’t always easily transfer to the Create-a-Sim environment, but it’s good enough. Sometimes, it even prompts a change or new attribute in the character that hadn’t occurred to me previously.

Third, there are so many places to have characters interact. If they live in the same house, there can be conversations over meals, working out together, or hanging out in the hot tub. If they go to a karaoke bar, they can flirt over drinks, or show off their singing skills. Even the bubble blower has inspired me to have characters interact at a hookah bar parking lot. It’s not a 1-to-1 translation, but sometimes these unique details in the game can spark an idea.

At times, I will purposely create new characters that have already been established in my mind or my writing. From there, I add new elements that I’m mulling over, or simply watch things play out naturally. Other times, I’ll play any family and let those events feed into inspiration for a story I haven’t brought to the game. It’s flexible, and it all depends on what I’m focusing on.

Some other Sims 4 players have gone so far as to take screenshots and create stories around them–an idea I love. I don’t take part in this type of storytelling, but it shows that I am definitely not the only one finding stories in the simulation.

You may be wondering–if the Sims can’t actually speak English, how do I create dialogue? Full honesty: dialogue is easiest for me to write. The game itself does help, though, with the thought bubbles above the Sims, as well as the conversation options. If it’s two bro-type characters, I’m going to bring up sports and fitness techniques. If it’s two characters I want to be together, there’s probably flirting and exchanging numbers. With those general ideas available, I can create the spoken (or unspoken) words between the characters.

Another helpful aspect is watching well-established characters go about their lives. A few times now I’ve assumed my written scene was perfect, but once I witnessed an interaction or scene in Sims, I felt the need to change things. Sometimes the game gives you huge ideas, and sometimes it helps you make tiny tweaks.

Sims 4 can be an overflowing source of inspiration for all writers. Start with the basics, your characters and the overarching story, and create from there. Whether you use it for writing, editing, brainstorming, or just wreaking havoc on characters you don’t like, use it as a tool and watch the words you write come alive.