About a month after it started, the epic of Cole Sprouse on Tumblr has come to an untimely end. Or perhaps it was perfect timing. About a week ago, he announced that he was deleting his Tumblr. For a heart-stopping moment, I thought it was because sites like ours had written about it — yeah, tooting our horn here — and he was upset by the extra attention. But no, it was all part of some broader plan.
After several months of posting intense commentary on anthropology, archaeology, and modern-day fame, Cole signed off with this mysterious farewell (emphases mine):
So my goal for this website was accomplished. I got all the information that I needed and now I’m deleting this account. Thanks to all who watched, read, and listened, I hope that in some small way my words carried weight.
The next time you see or hear from me I will, most definitely, be a changed man.
Before I go I’ll answer a question that people keep asking about my ring. My ring is the skull of a chameleon.
The chameleon can see everything that happens around it. Constantly aware of its environ, the small reptile changes color depending on the situation it enters. Its very special form of adaptation is one I try to mimic, every time I enter a space I try to become aware of what I step into and change my color accordingly. The way I move, feel, argue, and all the discourse of my life, changes in order to succeed within that space. This adaptation to environmental and social pressure will allow me to succeed, much like Darwin had so brilliantly noted. You take a role and embrace it, but know that you are never whole, and those who fall in love with you or otherwise fall for your performance, not you, for you is never constant.
My life is lokinous, but there are many levels to deceit, and cheating is only frowned upon when you’re caught. So goodbye and remember that the next time you see or hear from me I will, most definitely, be a changed man.
The prevailing theory seems to be that — anthro student that he is — Cole used Tumblr in a social experiment. Although at first I thought it was a bit intense of a knee-jerk reaction, upon rereading the post I can see why people would think that. I’ve bolded Cole’s statements that do seem to allude to the idea that he wasn’t 100% honest about his identity or his intentions in using this medium to interact with Suite Life fans and fellow thinkers. Then again, this is the internet—who really is 100% the person s/he claims to be?
However, shortly after his final Tumblr post, Cole tweeted out a rebuttal to all the people claiming this was an experiment. It sort of cleared things up but still left his departure frustratingly vague:
So, it sounds like he did use Tumblr as an experiment—but just with regard to the final post where he implied that it had all been a ruse, not all along. And yet, his followers seem to feel betrayed. I wasn’t engaging in the conversations with Cole, just reporting on his answers, so I don’t know how close he became with other Tumblr users over the past six weeks since his blog got discovered. But according to at least one user, many Tumblr users felt a kinship with this child star:
People didn’t get offended because you left. It’s because you lied. You made people think that even someone famous like you could be weird and goofy like them. You made them feel like the belonged in the world, just a bit more. Yeah, we had good times, and had fun. But you pretty much stated in you last post that it was a lie. It was all a lie. There are no good times to remember because none of it was true. You isolated a large group of people who you pretended to be friends with.
Then again, there are others who defend him, who point out his Homestuck references as genuine and say that he’s no different from another 20-year-old posting online about culture and society.
I’ll say it again: No matter if you’re a recognizable child star or someone linking their Facebook to their blog, you’re still never 100% truthful on the internet. If Cole hid or downplayed aspects of his actual personality, that’s his business. He didn’t owe it to anyone to reveal everything about himself because there was always the cyber barrier. However, from the beginning he’s made it clear that he’s using his unique perspective to comment on fame. He recorded more than one audio post about what it’s like to be a “celebrity,” and he’s given over a lot of time to interactions with fans. He exhibits a surprising amount of patience when it comes to his admirers, putting them in their place firmly but gently:
I keep getting messages that say “Cole you’re perfect, your awesome, I love you.” NO YOU DON’T let me make that clear, what you are feeling is infatuation. In no way do I want to push any of you away with this post, I want you to realize what your doing. If you’re hopping around from one celebrity crush to the next, you are being consumed by mass media and reproduced ideas of male and female perfection. THERE IS A REASON PEOPLE LIKE CELEBRITIES, it’s not because they’re normal but also not because they’re strange. Media make you strive for ideas of what is perfect, which NO ONE IS.
When I receive a message saying something like “Cole you’re a shining example of a human being” I like it of course, no one dislikes outright flattery, but that isn’t the point and never will be for this blog. My point is to make the people who unconsciously like me to question “WHY DO I LIKE HIM? Is he different than what I am?” No, that’s is the point, no. You have the ability to break past barriers that lower your own self esteem, barriers set by media. If I need to take ugly photos or make a fool of myself, fine. This is what needs to be realized.
I am not one of you. you are not one of us. we are each so vastly different and complex.
Remember, seeking similarity shades difference. Seeking difference shades similarity. Seeking similarity highlights difference. Seeking difference never highlights similarity.
He shared a lot of himself with the internet, and I can’t blame him for wanting to take a step back or for wanting to keep some aspects of his identity private. Also, this is the guy who devoted an Instagram account to people who try to surreptitiously take photos of him. Of course he would fuck around with other online users a bit. So, Tumblr users, take comfort in knowing that you have a pretty clear sense of who Cole Sprouse is from the fact that he deleted his Tumblr once it had served its purpose and then made a Twitter avatar to reflect people spitting the insult “peasant” at him. That speaks volumes.
Photo: Coleture Concept Archive