Taylor Swift has always been an active part of her fans’ lives, and when she took control of her Tumblr in 2014, it transformed the way she interacted with them. Swift’s penchant for being around her fanbase’s internet presence was quickly dubbed hashtag “RepuTayLurking,” and a new era of Swifties was born. On Nov. 11, Swift shared Reputation fan photos on Twitter, and it took the pop star’s “TayLurking” support to an entirely new level. What originally consisted of liking posts, jumping in live streams, and generally acting like one of her fan’s pals as — which, to Swifties, she is — has evolved into a full-blown phenomenon.
The natural progression of #TayLurking led to a Twitter explosion on Nov. 11, just one day after Reputation was released to the masses. The singer has been quiet on most non-Tumblr social media, posting album promotion instead of the bubbly comments for which she’s known. On the morning of Nov. 11, though, that all changed. Swift flooded Twitter with post after post of her fans listening to, loving, and buying her latest album, and #RepuTayLurking was born.
Swift may have spent her Saturday morning combing through Tumblr for evidence of Reputation fandom, but she didn’t make it about her. As is always the case with Swifties, the singer has allowed her fans to take center stage:
For post after post, Swift showed off photos of her fans appreciating her latest album. Without a caption beyond “#RepuTayLurking” and the requisite “Reputation,” she lets the pictures speak for themselves. It’s a strong message to broadcast to critics and fans alike: Here are the people who love my work, and in turn, I’m grateful for them. Bye, haters. At the risk of being cynical, it’s a genius marketing ploy as well. Encouraging fans to document their love of the album just in case Swift notices and decides to share is free advertising. For instance, any fan might be inclined to post about how Reputation makes them feel. But if adding a stylized photo and an effusive caption increases their chance of a Swift share, why wouldn’t they? And why wouldn’t Swift’s team take notice?
Swifties online love more than just the singer’s music, though; they genuinely love Taylor Swift, the human being. As The New York Times reports, Swift has long been known to send flowers to fans’ homes, or make special breakup mixes for the heartbroken in need. She approves of fan art, animated .gifs, and Swift-centric memes. In fact, the singer’s Tumblr hive appears to be a microcosm of the universe, where there’s no criticism, no hot take, no bad word to be said about her.
While it seems curious, even irresponsible, to devote oneself so wholly to a controversial fave, that’s the exact point of Swift’s Tumblrverse: There, she isn’t controversial. It’s an environment free of critique, a Swift-themed echo chamber where the most passionate Swifties worship, and she seems to appreciate their loyalty. Even after Swift’s 2016 controversies, the fans fully support their fave on the social media platform and, in turn, Swift has supported them through many likes and reblogs. It’s where fans can go to be shiny, happy Swifties and pledge their loyalty to their favorite musician.
The #RepuTayLurking hashtag is the perfect blend of album promotion, fan excitement, and an accurate capture of Swift’s regular online support of her fans. #RepuTayLurking is both a description of the act and a summons for Swift to perform it. And this was only 36 hours after Reputation dropped! It will be interesting to see what Swift (and Swifties) come up with next.