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I'm Mad: Alt TikTok Is Becoming 2010’s Tumblr

Alt TikTok is showing symptoms of the toxic Tumblr disease and no one is noticing.

(Catarina Carvalho / Unsplash)


To those who remember what 2010’s Tumblr was like, I'm so sorry you had to experience that. And uh, not to stir up any traumatic memories but... that toxicity might've made a reappearance in 2020's alt Tiktok.

For those of you who might be confused: gatekeepers, the so-called "experts" on all things alternative, have rudely taken it upon themselves to call out who who's quirky and different enough to identify as alt on TikTok. Anyone who doesn't make the cut is shunned.

Originally, alt TikTok was an inclusive space for people of alternative subcultures to share their interests, styles and trains of thoughts. And while it still is for many people, one can't help but notice how it's been delving away from inclusive and more toward straight up divisive. But I'm sorry, did anyone ask for this regression?

Take this TikTok, for example, of another stringy white boy trying to gatekeep skate culture.

Or this TikTok of someone labeling those who are simply trying to express themselves as "trying too hard".

Notice how both posts shun members who don't meet their communities so-called "requirements"? Well, lovers of internet history, it's time for a review! This old Tumblr post shows how this isn't the first time a supposedly accepting community has waged a pointless war against its users.

Why should listening to a specific band be a mandatory prerequisite to call yourself emo? Yes, My Chemical Romance is an iconic band among those who consider themselves to be emo, but gatekeeping the band and the community is a worthless effort.

Rejecting fellow fans of My Chemical Romance for a sense of cultural superiority? Middle school me would be appalled.

These hard boundaries separate subcultures into two categories: real fans and posers. If you’re stamped with the “poser” label, you’re automatically given the online cold shoulder. Your access to the alternative community will immediately be revoked.

Building off of the musical facet of alternative culture, it’s especially messed up to question someone’s music taste based solely on how they look.

Enjoying a genre of music should have absolutely nothing to do with one’s appearance at all. Casting unnecessary judgment on someone because they don’t fit your outdated standards? Grow up.

Some even believe that gatekeeping is necessary and beneficial to their communities.

Organized, strong, and focused? Um, this isn’t the military — it’s Tumblr. The gatekeeping on TikTok is becoming scarily similar to the protective mess on Tumblr. 

This toxic trend is souring the reputation of alternative people and subcultures. Instead of being perceived as a welcoming and accepting community, it’s becoming more and more exclusive. 

Those of us that consider ourselves to be alternative should be careful to not exclude those who want to participate as well. So if you want to avoid Alt TikTok turning into the mess that is Tumblr, cut it out and just let people have fun and explore their identities.


Christelle Pierre is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. When not writing, one can find Christelle holding a YA novel in one hand and an iced coffee in the other. She can be reached on Instagram @x.hristelle


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