The mainstream narrative has declared Tumblr dead for years. Last week, a leaked memo finally revealed the site’s plans to scale down its operations—but its art, fandoms, and inside jokes rage on.
There’s an image that’s repeatedly appeared on my Tumblr dash in the past few days: a screengrab from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia originally captioned, “Everybody’s dying, bitch. Let’s get you some fruit,” in which a Tumblr user with the handle “toxiczombie” has replaced “everybody’s” with the words “Tumblr’s always.” As of this writing, it has a quarter-million likes and reblogs. The posting date: November 18, 2018.
Off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember exactly why my fellow Tumblr users were predicting the platform’s death in November 2018. The adult-content ban, a monumental event in the site’s history that undeniably altered its trajectory, wouldn’t be announced until a few weeks later and implemented a few weeks after that.
A bit of digging revealed the post was likely related to the ban’s precursors: when the Tumblr iOS app suddenly vanished from the App Store with suggestions it was related to “child pornography issues” and when a rash of blogs, many of them explicitly NSFW, were deleted without warning overnight.