“Unfollow me if…” is such an unfortunate way of saying “fuck you.” Since the Tumblr follow system is asymmetric, all it really means is “if you don’t agree with me about certain important things, stop listening to me.”
If you think trans people are faking it for attention, follow me! If you think we don’t need feminism now that sexism is over, follow me! If you think Millennials are lazy degenerates because sometimes you see them texting, follow me! If you think I’m an ambassador from a world of entitled pervert whiners, but for whatever reason you’re willing to listen to me, please do! You might fuckin’ learn something!
i’m sure there are people who use it that way, but every single person i’ve seen say “unfollow/don’t follow if” has said so because of how they use tumblr, namely as a safe space and haven. for example, they keep their asks open for the purpose of creating and participating in friendships, not so that they can answer the same questions about their identities and experiences over and over again. or their paranoia is easier to keep in check when they know they aren’t being hatefollowed, or they’re writing about the shitty things that happen in their lives just to vent, not for other people’s consumption and education.
like, i get it, i once asked a total stranger on here if i could show someone else their posts because i thought they could learn from it, and that stranger said, “woah, no, these are my diary entries, they’re public for people who are going through the same, to build community, and you’re making me feel like a specimen on display.” and i was like damn you’re right, that’s fair. you don’t suffer so that i can learn, and tumblr (and all such sites) are really only what you make it, so use it however you want, it’s your own blog.
and when people put age restrictions, i think that’s a very obvious safety measure. “i am a minor and do not want adults following me” is just not something i feel i need to ask any follow up questions about, i prefer to just respect that, regardless of what their reasons are. similarly, so many fat bloggers, especially fat fashion bloggers, have to repeatedly ask fetish blogs to leave their photos alone, because reblogging exposes them to an audience that can be really dangerous. i have a hard time buying the idea that those fetish bloggers would eventually learn to stop their dehumanising and stalking behaviours simply from following people who already said “leave me alone,” and i don’t think educating others is the price you pay to talk about a topic online, especially if you’re talking about your own life as a fat person, not fat issues, as such (i hope i’m making the difference clear with my phrasing).
personally, being on the autism spectrum with a hearty side of ptsd, i can’t tell what someone’s intentions are with me unless they tell me directly. so there’s that too. i mean if someone wants to run their blog a certain way for certain people i don’t really care, i just don’t think it’s accurate to say “this phrase always means this, and there is a right way to blog, and there’s no way anyone else could have a different way of thinking about this than i do.”
I do agree with everything you’ve just said, and I think it’s more than reasonable to not want certain people following you, and to even ask certain people not to follow you.
Especially when the people you’re asking not to follow you are say, adults. Because most decent people when seeing a child say “please don’t follow me if your an adult” say “of course” because they’re decent human beings who understand that children’s comfort and safety is more important than their desire to follow them.
But like, saying “don’t follow if” relies on the fundamental assumption that the people you’re asking that of are decent human beings who respect you and your boundaries. And that just, really does not work when it comes to say, TERFs of fetish blogs or w/e.
Like honestly no TERF is going to see a trans person saying “don’t follow me if you’re a TERF” and go “oh, I’d better not follow them then” and no fetish blog is going to see a fat blogger saying don’t follow me if you’re a fetish blog and respect that.
Idk I guess from where I’m sitting it doesn’t seem very SAFE to put the responsibility for keeping your tumblr a safe space onto people who disrespect your existence.
Plus I’ve seen an awful lot of trans people recently talking about how a lot of cis “ally’s” put “no TERFs please” in their about or w/e and proceed to go around rebloging from, interacting with or even behaving like TERFs. And how “don’t follow if you [X]” gets used in place of actually being an ally and as a shield for being called out on this.
I really don’t like the way you talk about fetish bloggers as a monolith.
I have a fetish related to certain disabilities, and I’m very careful not to follow anyone with a disability that falls under my fetish if I have any reason to believe that they’d be uncomfortable about me following them. In large part because I use Tumblr as a safe space, too, and seeing people express hatred for an aspect of my sexuality isn’t conducive to me feeling safe; but also because I don’t want to make people uncomfortable unnecessarily.
The way you group TERFs and fetish blogs together implies that you think having a fetish for certain kinds of people is a political stance, but it really isn’t. It’s not a choice, any more than anyone else chooses who to be attracted to.