The social-media platform’s status as a relic of the Internet has attracted prodigal users as well as new ones.
In 2013, when Jennifer Forward-Hayter was fourteen, she would log onto the social network Tumblr from the desktop computer in her family’s working farmhouse in Dorset, England. The machine sat on a dark wooden desk in a hall off the porch. “Proper picturesque English countryside,” she said. On the site, she would look at GIFs and images from the TV shows “Doctor Who” and its spinoff “Torchwood.” Tumblr was Forward-Hayter’s main access to culture—her rural town had no museums, galleries, or art scene. (She is now a photographer in London.) In late 2016, when she left home for university, her Tumblr use trailed off; there was plenty of cultural discussion to be found at art school. But during the early months of the pandemic, on a whim, she logged back on. “My dashboard”—the main Tumblr feed—“was still weirdly active. People I followed a long time ago were still posting stuff, which I thought was very strange,” she told me. “I fell back into it quite easily.” Since then, she has spent time on Tumblr every day. It has rejoined her regular rotation of social media, alongside its much more popular competitors Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.