October 1, 2012
So it’s come to this …


Live giffing the debates. Tumblr staff is excitedly promising that they will deploy their resources to make gifs rapid-fire during the debates to, in their words, capture “the best debate moments, from zingers to gaffes to awkward silences.” This is to be done in name of “[e]levating the discourse as only Tumblr can.”

I imagine I can reconstruct the thinking process here: lots of people like gifs + lots of people are talented at making gifs + Tumblr is a good platform for gifs = let’s have lots of live gifs on Tumblr during the debate. It may even make good business sense.

What it doesn’t do is make political sense — or teaching sense. Politics is complicated; figuring out what different candidates say and think and trying to understand how and why that matters in your own life is hard. It’s made even harder by the fact that neither the candidates nor the endless number of spin doctors who abet their campaigns want you to have a clear sense of what the candidate thinks. (See this post for an explanation of why this is the case.) People need help navigating these uncertain waters so that they can make informed choices about difficult problems with no easy answers. 

But don’t look for it from Tumblr. In the Tumblrverse, you don’t actually have to pay attention to the debate at all. Just giggle at the weirdoes on stage. Pat yourself on the back and remind yourself how much hipper you are than they are — all from the security of your local coffee shop or residence hall room. Heck, Tumblr even “warns” you you might get flooded with gifs on the night, so be careful! (Which is a warning with about the same meaning as the “four hour erection” warning in a Viagra ad: really? I can have four hours of fun?)

Snark is easy, and while I enjoy a good gif riff as much as the next person, once again it seems to me Tumblr has gone for the cheap joke, not the teaching opportunity. Alas.

Bolded for emphasis.

  1. lizardsfromspace reblogged this from politicalprof
  2. whatgodzillasaidtogod reblogged this from politicalprof and added:
    Couldn’t have said it better myself.
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  6. alternrg reblogged this from mohandasgandhi and added:
    Can we still honestly call the shenanigans a debate? As someone who struggles with reading, gifs and lists may have...
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  11. other-stuff reblogged this from mohandasgandhi and added:
    Given that I think gifs are mostly useless and or annoying (although they can be used to great effect to display the...
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  13. mohandasgandhi reblogged this from genericlatino and added:
    Stuff like this is why I really slack-off when it comes to posting good, original content. I just don’t see the point in...
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