Did Obama Prove to Tumblr That He's Hip? An Investigation

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On paper, President Obama's White House Tumblr social with David Karp was about promoting Democrats' student loan proposals. But really, it was about proving to Tumblr users that Obama is hip. We're not sure he succeeded.

"You're laughing because you think, what does he know about Tumblr?" Obama said on Monday, ahead of his talk with Karp. "But you will recall that I have two teenage daughters — so I am hip to all these things." At the White House event, the president brought up his party's plans to reduce student loan payments and ideas on how to make sure students know their options when it comes to taking on debt and whether college is the right choice. As far as being hip enough for Tumblr, here's how he stacked up. 

Hip: He had some good jokes

At times Obama came off as that dad who wants you to think he's cool but isn't really. Even though he's the President of the United States of America he tried to come off as a slacker student. "I was a humanities major," he said. "I was pretty good in math until I got to high school, and then I misspent those years.” He also joked that the White House was a rental, which got a lot of laughs from the audience. 

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Not Hip: This gif


"So, this just happened backstage," the White House tumblr posted. It really shouldn't have. 

Hip: He created a Tumblr fandom

Before reading haikumoon's question (about feeling pressured into college before knowing what major you want) Karp noted that not everyone submitted their real name. Obama said it was a cool username, and a small fandom was born. 


And that led to a lot of new followers.



Not Hip: He bombed an LBGT question


Hip: He aced the gun rights question

One Tumblr user submitted a question about school shootings that was already outdated, given today's shooting. “The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people," Obama said, "and yet, we kill each other in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than anyplace else.” He also said that most members of Congress are "terrified of the NRA." Several users were glad Obama called America out and blogged the "monopoly on crazy" quote.

Not Hip: He didn't know Sasha's not old enough to use Tumblr

At the end of the event, Karp told the audience to wish Sasha a happy 13th birthday, and joked that she's finally old enough to use Tumblr. "So she wasn’t before then?" he said.

Obama didn't read the Terms of Service. Via


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.