Internet Gutter Tumblr Shoplifting

first_img Online is a strange and terrifying place. It’s enabled us to connect with one another, advance the causes of science and culture, and unite the world with a glowing net of data. It’s also enabled people with very… particular interests to find each other. In this weekly series, we’ll be dipping into the Internet Gutter – the strange subcultures and weird worlds lurking in the dark pockets of the World Wide Web.Tumblr ShopliftingTumblr is, full stop, one of the weirdest sites on the Internet. Sure, you probably only think of it as a place for confused goth teens to post Sherlock kissing art and argue over the pronouns of cartoon characters, but it’s actually remarkably diverse in its creepiness. There are backwaters of the site dedicated to all sorts of unsavory behavior, as shown in our recent installment about the online meth scene.One of the weirdest and pettiest parts of the Tumblr criminal division is the world of “lifters,” people who obsessively shoplift and document their hauls on the site. This is a subculture with cryptic lingo, bizarre rules and lots of pure Internet Gutter to discover. Put on a pair of gloves and let’s go shopping.Crime TimeThere’s not much to explain about shoplifting itself: you go into a store and leave without paying for something. There are plenty of methods of doing so, from putting clothes on in a changing room underneath your own (some Tumblr lifters cheat Victoria’s Secret out of tons of panties at a time doing this) to concealing merchandise in other boxes.How it’s expressed on Tumblr is through “haul” photos, where thieves artfully lay out their ill-gotten goods on attractive backgrounds and post them for likes and reblogs. They also tabulate the retail value of everything they stole, and some even keep a running tally of their total crime winnings.Some of the hauls are patently unbelievable, like this one where a girl claims to have made off with a pair of lobsters:If there’s one thing we’ve learned in our time on the Internet, it’s that people can come up with a moral justification for just about anything. Tumblr shoplifters argue that their thefts are justified because they’re not hurting anybody but massive corporations, and besides they need this stuff to survive.The only issue with this is that, for the most part, Tumblr lifters aren’t posting bragging pictures of fruits and vegetables that they’ve swiped. No, the preferred hauls are makeup, underwear, and luxury goods. Even if they sell them afterward – known as “boosting” – the optics aren’t great here.Been Caught StealingOne of the most notable hubs in shoplifting Tumblr is Shoplifting Guide, which offers dedicated store-specific tips on getting away with petty theft. Asks come in from users – many of which have “lift” in their username – and the community teaches them how to get away with it.Most of the advice given is pretty basic – H&M has a “no chase” policy, go with a partner for best results, don’t wear bright clothing to draw attention to yourself – but others seem pretty bizarre.Not really sure how Grandma is going to feel about that. The sheer amount of mental effort put into developing new and better ways to swipe stuff is flabbergasting and could probably go to a better cause. But lifters are dedicated to their craft and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.The Muscle WarTumblr is organized around tags, and the most active one for shoplifting is #liftblr (a contraction of “Lifting Tumblr”). There’s only one problem: “lifting,” the slang term these petty thieves use, is also a bodybuilding term, and the gym rats want it back. The tag’s feed – and other lifting-related terms – are filled with a bizarre alternating narrative of stolen clothes and getting swole.Needless to say, the bodybuilders aren’t happy about it. There’s no way to “own” a hashtag, as countless brands have found out on Twitter, so the feeds are a constant back and forth of petty sniping.Because this is Tumblr, there also has to be a mental illness angle. People with kleptomania – the impulse control disorder that spurs people to steal without needing to – look down on the lifter community for faking their disease, while lifters argue back that they’re just doing what they have to to survive. Here’s a classic example in Tumblr debate thread format.Getting Away With ItOne of the absolute weirdest outgrowths of the shoplifting subculture on Tumblr is an accompanying one of “shoplifting roleplay.” That’s exactly what it sounds like: people posting pictures of things they claim to have stolen but actually paid for.In some cases, this is actually a double-blind from real lifters. They believe that they’re throwing law enforcement off their trail, in a strategy that only teenage girls would think effective. This is also an attempt to get around Tumblr’s community guidelines, which clearly state that “illegal behavior” is banned on the site. That said, they’re not doing anything about shoplifters because what they’re posting isn’t illegal – it’s just piles of merchandise.The thieves of Tumblr have weathered several storms – in 2014, the “Bling Ring” of high-profile lifters was brought into the public eye through a viral post, and many of those accounts deactivated. But for every lifter who gives up the lifestyle (or just stops bragging about their misdemeanors on the Internet), two more pop up to take their place, ready to share their ill-gotten makeup with the world. Internet Gutter: Crisis ActorsInternet Gutter: Mukbang Stay on targetlast_img read more