As you may know, the past week or so has been “Internet Week,” the annual
circlejerk conference(?) where the Internet’s movers, shakers and poseurs get together in New York to get drunk and blow smoke up each other’s as$es. In such, there are parties — just like SXSW Interactive, Internet week is basically just an orgy of panels and parties, most of them exceedingly lame — and the whole thing culminates with the Webby Awards, which are later tonight.
So on Friday, Tumblr threw a party and posted a slew of photos from the bash taken by photographer Clint Spaulding — on Tumblr, naturally. The Tumblr folk described the soiree thusly on the page: “On Friday, June 10, Tumblr celebrated Internet Week at the Hudson Hotel’s gorgeous Sky Terrace with some of our closest friends.”
I ran across this page earlier and soon found myself scrolling through the dozens upon dozens of dozens of photos taken at the event — mainly looking for people I know while reminding myself of all the reasons I don’t miss living in New York and going to these kinds of parties — when I began to notice a strange occurrence, or lack thereof, in the photoset: I didn’t spot a single person of color anywhere in there.
So I went back and went through EVERY. SINGLE. ONE., searching in vain for a black person, or even a person with a decent tan. Nothing. The only racial diversion from painfully I found were a couple of Asians. I then noticed that the gadflies over at Young Manhattanite had picked up on the same thing. It was actually quite refreshing to know that I wasn’t alone in my astonishment.
Now, I’m not saying that Tumblr and the people who run it are racist in any way. In fact, I feel completely confident in saying that quite the opposite is true. I love Tumblr and have met a few of the people who work there, including scooter-riding founder David Karp, and found them all to be delightful people. What I think this photoset illustrates, however, is a certain lack of self-awareness and pompousness found often in young, successful people (kind of like Lebron James!) that I think is sort of pervasive not just at Tumblr, but in the modern tech scene collectively.
What you have is a bunch of educated, intelligent, upwardly mobile people who fancy themselves, for the most part, as curious and forward-thinking, and yet they’re often surrounded exclusively by mirror images of themselves — many of whom have achieved notable things in a short period of time without really knowing what it’s like to struggle mightily to acheive them — people who think and feel in the exact same ways as they do. It’s like they’re living in a bubble (pun intended)! And as someone who has attended a fair share of these types of gatherings, I can say authoritatively that the lack of diversity, racial and otherwise, exhibited here is the rule and not the exception, which is why I stopped going to them at all, for the most part.
Looking at the set of pics from the party, I’m convinced that this will be fodder in some way for future Internet anthropologists, and if Tumblr still exists 20-30 years from now, I’m also convinced that there will be a “People at Tumblr Parties in the Tens” Tumblr that people go to to look at and laugh at the people from that point in time.
“ZOMG, it looks like a hipster Klan meeting or something.”
Now, excuse me while I step down from my soap box and call it a day…
(Cat video via Jen Doll)