As with many new technologies, it takes someone with a special talent to pave the way for other’s to find its perfect use. Such is the case with Tumblr, a quasi-social networking site that is much more about posting pictures, than sharing personal information. But that’s all changing due to the raw talent of one young lady who found Tumblr to be a natural extension of the way she’s been using her diary for several years. i.e. cartoons. The young lady in question, Ms. Taylor-Ruth Baldwin, from Somewhere, Indiana, has become a star of sorts, on Tumblr, of all places. She creates cartoons in her diary, just as she always has, but now, she digitizes them and pastes the results on her Tumblr page. And the response has been, to put it mildly, rather overwhelming. According to Wired magazine, Ms. Baldwin is getting something like 15,000 visitors a day, and one post got twice that. Clearly, she’s struck a nerve.
For those that might think her popularity is due mainly to her use of a novel idea, they’d be wise to check out some of her work. It’s not just cartoons she’s posting, it’s teen angst; that gut-busting roller coaster ride of an existence that goes along with passing through the teen years and on into adulthood. Ms. Baldwin, as she notes on her page, is still just seventeen years old. You’d know it from the topics, drawings and commentary, but not from her style. Instead of following the trend of so many young people passing through their formative years who clearly believe that a sentence typed short is the true essence of self expression, Ms. Baldwin relies on that age old technique whereby words are crafted and used to convey not just blatant meaning, but underlying feelings of emotion as well. In this sense, she is an artist with a double medium; drawing and writing. As are all great cartoonists, of course.
The moral of the story here, contrary to what Facebook, Twitter and so many other social networking sites are selling, is that not everyone is actually created equal. Every person is indeed unique and possess certain characteristics that define them as someone other than everyone else, but very few of those traits are of much interest to others. Fortunately, some people posses a little bit of magic too, and its name is art. In Ms. Baldwin’s case, her gift is her ability to convey the emotions that most people feel when going through similar or shared experiences, in a way that is both thoughtful and entertaining. And that’s why people show up every day to see what she’s posted. And it’s for that reason that no matter how popular social networking sites become, only a few will ever rise above the noise.