like a pair of bottle rockets

My name is Sophie. I'm a writer.

sophcw at gmail dot com


#the internet

The oral* history of Music Tumblr 2008-2014: your responses »



Some great rejoinders to my piece from yesterday about the rise and fall of Music Tumblr. A few worth pointing out:

  • katherinestasaph: “I would blame the economics of journalism long, long before I would blame YouTube and Bandcamp and Spotify, because one has at least opened up far more…

Really enjoyed seeing all of this. Sounds like I joined tumblr just after what some consider the best moment of this particular corner of “music tumblr.” I also find it interesting that I found pretty quickly many of the folks that might be said to comprise this loose scene. I joined tumblr after prr I think so that never factored in for me. I might be remembering wrong but I think early on I saw something from Ewing where he said it reminded him of early ilm and I agree with that. I’ve learned a ton here and it’s been a fun place to experiment. I’ve always found tumblr relaxing for some reason, unlike any other social media. It’s the only platform I’ve ever actually liked and not participated in out of professional obligation. I’m sticking around and I hope others do. On the lookout for new people to follow.

I only found out about the original post, in which I am name-checked by someone who I’ve never heard of (not a dis! thanks for the shout out!), via Dan Kolitz's Facebook, on which he among others were joking (or “joking”) about being offended we were not asked to participate in this. I honestly think that the PRR side of Tumblr and the “music criticism” side were slightly different if overlapping cultures. PRR was “about music” only loosely. Mostly it was about being a young person living in NYC with creative aspirations. A lot of the people who were involved in “music tumblr” fell into that category, and I think one of the other reasons that the “scene” isn't necessarily as big of a deal now is that a lot of those friendships migrated from online into real life. And yeah, a lot of us are in our mid-20's now, and when this whole deal started we probably were slightly more naive and excited about the possibilities of music and writing and having a connection to people who wrote for websites that still seemed beyond our reach if it weren't for Tumblr. 

It is actually insane how much of my life has been shaped by this website. The person who hired me for the internship that brought me back to New York did so largely on the strength of what he saw as my “personal brand” on my blog. When I was at NYU I became friends via Tumblr with one of my favorite music writers (and one of the most important unmentioned founders of “music tumblr”) and he even agreed to have coffee with me, which was the equivalent of an Almost Famous moment for me at the time. My friendships with Dan and Jeremy led to them living with another friend of mine who moved out here from California. This is why it’s funny to me when people still draw thick lines between things that happen on the internet and the rest of reality. Because if it weren’t for the internet, so much of my own reality wouldn’t even exist. 

I haven’t been writing for both the reasons given by people in the original post, and those brought up by Katherine in the response post. I was incredibly broke until very recently (now I’m slightly less broke), which led me to take on a bunch of service industry jobs which took away from my ~tumblr time~, and also led me to focus on writing for money, since that’s really all I could afford. But I’m not going anywhere!

Lastly, in another strange meta-event, I DJed several Tumblr company events over the last few years, including their Christmas party in 2012. At one of these events I was drunkenly chatting up David Karp and he told me my DJing was “brilliant,” because that’s what people tell you when you play “Empire State Of Mind” into Grimes for a bunch of wasted advertising people. 


“St. Vincent and EMA both share a futuristic aesthetic and a penchant for sci-fi references, but their visions are far from hyperbole. We are living in a world where government-run machines auto-surveille the populous to look for evidence of crimes that haven’t happened yet, where people commit suicide over cyberbullying from anonymous sources. It isn’t a fantastical future dystopia EMA and St. Vincent are singing about. It’s the one we already live in.”

– So excited to have finally published this piece for Pitchfork’s The Pitch. I care a lot about both of these artists and this subject in general, and it is fantastic to have a venue through which to write about them. 

These are the two things I believe most strongly: 

1. Truth is subjective. 

2. Compassion for all is the highest goal one can aspire to in this life. 

That’s all. 


Facebook Fraud (by Veritasium)

"Sites like these use clickfarms in developing countries like India, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Here, employees are routinely paid just 1 dollar per thousand clicks of the like button."

Really fascinating.

I want to focus overall less on myself, how good or bad I think I am, and more on feeling compassion for others, especially on the internet. I want to grasp less towards things being a certain way and allow more room to be compassionate towards any and everyone, even if I despise everything they stand for or they despise everything I stand for. I want to create more and more room for different perspectives and opinions and experiences. I don’t know if this will help or change anything. I think all I can do is change myself and keep myself from losing all hope.

I think most of us out there are having a net positive effect on the spaces we inhabit, given our circumstances and limitations. I believe in us. I believe we are trying as hard as we can to be as good as we can be, and sometimes too hard, and sometimes hurting ourselves in the process. I think it’s not just ok, but necessary to be compassionate towards ourselves as well. And I think that’s the only way we’re going to keep ourselves from total disillusionment and despair. 

“Online, however, intersectionality is overwhelmingly about chastisement and rooting out individual sin. Partly, says Cooper, this comes from academic feminism, steeped as it is in a postmodern culture of critique that emphasizes the power relations embedded in language. “We actually have come to believe that how we talk about things is the best indicator of our politics,” she notes. An elaborate series of norms and rules has evolved out of that belief, generally unknown to the uninitiated, who are nevertheless hammered if they unwittingly violate them. Often, these rules began as useful insights into the way rhetorical power works but, says Cross, “have metamorphosed into something much more rigid and inflexible.” One such rule is a prohibition on what’s called “tone policing.” An insight into the way marginalized people are punished for their anger has turned into an imperative “that you can never question the efficacy of anger, especially when voiced by a person from a marginalized background.””

This article makes me want to cry, I’m not sure from despair or from relief that someone wrote it. 

“i want to take all my closest friends and 40 random people off the street and battle them all verbally creating instant and violent word art bleeding into unconscious streams of emotional rage.
then i want to have each draw their fears on the blank page, pass them around instructing all to make it 40 times more hideous, rinse repeat, until it’s received back by the instigator as something humorous.”

Jack Dorsey in his DeviantArt phase. I find this stuff weirdly inspiring?