Saturday, October 27, 2012

I am a very old man.

The birthday is coming up. And, what one definitely shouldn’t do as that holiday nears is this: decide to immerse one’s self in Tumblr and finally take the time to see what microblogging is all about.

Blogging, as performed on this very page, is comforting and easy to grasp for those of us who are products of previous generations. It’s basically keeping a public diary out on the internet. Diaries have been around forever, so keeping one on the net, even if it’s topical, is no great breakthrough.

The post-literate world of Tumblr, however, is a little different. Every time I went to it, I found myself going “Where are the blogs?” It was all pictures, captions, and Facebook-like comments. “Visual retweets” are the best way to describe a lot of what is on Tumblr, and it’s galling to have to use a word referring to another social network just to get that far.

Why should a Sherlockian bother with Tumblr, you ask? Well, if you’re asking, you’re obviously above a certain age, like myself. Because Tumblr is the great hub of fandoms these days. And Sherlockiana is a fandom.

The thing that makes Sherlockiana unique is that we like to think we aren’t a fandom. The fact that Sherlock has been around for a hundred and twenty-five years, more or less, means we can do actual historical research about our hero and our fandom, which makes us feel all the more legit than Potterphiles or Twilighters, but truth be told, we’re still just fans. We get pissy about all the same stuff.

We have fanwank and shipwars, two words I just learned today from my Tumblr immersion. And we’ve had slash and Mary Sues, two terms I’ve known about since the Trekkie fan generation. But even Trekkies are hoary ancients these days, along with the Dungeons and Dragons crowd.

The thing that makes me laugh is that my current middle-aged state is where a Sherlock Holmes fan was just hitting his prime, only a couple of decades ago. And back then, middle-aged Sherlockians worried about the lack of younger fans. Well, the younger fans are here now and the hysterical thing is that we old-school sorts don’t fully realize how fully invested they are, because we don’t get things like Tumblr or even “the twittering.”

But there’s fun to be had in this energetic new Sherlockian world, if we long-time Sherlockians can see past the old, well-travelled paths we are used to.  It just takes a little adapting, and damned if it won’t make you feel old.

But, hey, Sherlock Holmes has been very, very old before, too. And look where he is now.

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