Life&Style writer A K explores the online phenomenon of web weaving and emotion dumping, questioning the reasons for this emerging trend.
More likely than not, we have all (sub)consciously engaged with or been subjected to the surge of static posts or videos shared on TikTok and Instagram labeled as ‘quote dumps’ or ‘web weaving’. The digital realm’s take on traditional weaving is rooted in the Tumblr archive, in which ‘web weaving’ refers to a multimedia combination of sources being interlinked by a certain theme, emotion, or concept.
Think a slideshow of memes, snippets of films, sentimental poetry, depressing and existential quotes, and different aesthetic images, many reflecting themes of loneliness, anxiety, friendship, and nostalgia. To top it off, the hallmark effect of these posts is their accompanying heartfelt and melancholy music. Have we all just got the morbs?
At present, there is a wide variety of content, namely on TikTok, which is searchable under ‘quote dumping posts’. This content tends to be steered towards teenagers and young adults. This ranges from ‘web weaving’, images of childhood cartoons with emotive text, Instagram reels and TikToks which include a compilation of thought-provoking threads.
This trend is even found in unfiltered videos like those by Instagram page ‘spiritualawakening_111’. One of their videos features a young woman crying overlaid with instrumental music and text, which reads ‘when they’re distant & all of a sudden, you’re a little girl again wondering why no one wants to be your friend’, eliciting a sense of overpowering empathy.
However, in many cases content can be distorted and repurposed, with videos or posts being used as backgrounds for completely unrelated commentary.
The question remains: Why do we seek comfort in melancholy content?
The makers of ‘quote dumping’ posts tend to be young women who include content which reflects on childhood and girlhood. As such, these strings of imagery may help one make sense of the transition towards adulthood.
With influences of children’s fiction, an Instagram reel by ‘roya_writes’ that made itself aware on my Instagram explore page encompasses this feeling of nostalgia and cynicism towards the idyllic life that media paints for us. In it, a grainy montage of fairy tale images overlaid with white text: ‘We grew up with fairy tales, expecting a happy ending for ourselves but real life disappointed us’ is coupled with Leonardo Holmes’ song ‘A dream is a wish your heart makes true’, from Disney’s Cinderella. The interplay between the rapid imagery against the mellow piano notes allows the viewer to reflect upon the lyrical dissonance of the statement.
In the same vein, the Instagram page ‘hopehealingarts’, a self-proclaimed ‘soft meme magician’, is devoted to posting grainy pastel slideshows of Disney characters with introspective text. The user is addressed as ‘dear dreamer/younger me/inner perfectionist’, encouraging viewers to unapologetically embrace their individuality.
In researching this content form, I found myself gravitating towards softer, emotive, and nostalgic imagery. This is also captured in TikTok’s ‘Pakistani Truck Quotes’, which offer an Eastern poetic take on these ‘dumps’ through messages painted on trucks discussing themes of love and betrayal, which are then translated in English, Urdu, and Hindi.
Quote dumps can be a way to feel seen and validated through the communication of repressed or forgotten feelings in short digestible forms. Whilst talking about mental health remains a taboo for many users, the prevalence of this content enables one to engage in the comment sections with like-minded individuals, which reinforces a sense of virtual community.
The aesthetic appeal of this content plays an integral role in how it speaks to us as viewers. Whether it is mindlessly scrolling, liking these ‘quote dumps’, sending relatable content to friends or simply saving it to your personal archive (because why not?), how we engage with this form of media matters.
So, is constant consumption of these emotional ‘dumps’ a healthy habit?
It may be therapeutic to engage with emotive content which brings back a sense of nostalgia, which enables you to tap into your inner child or consider an introspective outlook on the imagery and meaning displayed. However, consuming copious amounts of ‘web weaving’ and ‘quote dumps’ can algorithmically alter your social media feeds to present an infinite loop of content that may promote a negative headspace.
This influx of subcultural content may be noted as the rebrand of aesthetically glamorised trauma bonds. It is comical in some sense: you see a quote dump, it tugs at your heart strings, you have the following urge to send this content to a friend and this cycle continues.
What do you see?
Are these ‘quote dumps’ harmless and relatable content which unify audiences, or do they poke at issues beyond the surface? Have we become too desensitised towards comically coded calls for help? Or is it in the name of content creation to simply rake up engagement?
See below for examples:
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