Today, as Lana herself appears to be the independent, empowered woman 2012 so desperately wanted her to be (despite multiple stumbles), singing about trading in violets for roses, this is how most of us perform our suffering on the internet. We turn our pain into ironic punchlines and treat seriousness unseriously. Captioning a photo of a minion with “I’m suicidal lol,” for example, is commonplace and fair game, but posting a black-and-white crying selfie with Lana’s lyrics overlaid would end up on a shitposting page like @on_a_downward_spiral. “I used to go to Tumblr to read deep, pretentious shit, and I still do, but now I just laugh about it as well,” said the user behind @chateaumarmontxx.

Anna, like most of the people I spoke to for this article, said that the way she expresses her pain online is in alignment with whatever style invites the most engagement from the online community. “I am someone who shitposts about my mental health now, and I know deep down that I am just using humor to deflect my problems so I don’t actually have to deal with them,” she said. “At the same time, aestheticizing my pain back then made it almost seem desirable…like I would lose part of who I was if I healed and became happy or healthy.”

Even though their mode of expression has shifted, the influence of Lana Tumblr—a place where young women and girls were able to “identify and articulate feelings, desires, and needs in a way [they] hadn’t been able to before,” as Taylor called it—is undeniable. Some say they miss it. “I can still feel myself—especially in this lockdown with nothing to do, and during university when I made the wrong friends and I was bored—wanting to live that fantasy world,” said Jenna. “But the world isn’t real, and you end up sitting in a room, in the dark, in a silk dress depressed out of your mind.”

As “the culture”—one of Lana’s favorite phrases—has largely de-aestheticized the way we exhibit pain, I can almost understand the allure that Lana Tumblr, a communally imagined world of pastel-pink, scars, thin bodies, and Lolita sunglasses, had on my friend. It was an escapist fantasy of pain and desire in which to dissolve.

As we remain in the soft-pink, nostalgic glow of Lana Tumblr, it’s important to question exactly what we’re longing for, and why. Is there no longer a digital space to truly communicate pain, where romance and fantasy like the kind you found on Lana Tumblr are encouraged? Should there be? Looking back on it now, I feel homesick for a time I personally didn’t live through. I wish I could see my friend spinning in front of that mirror, like a gif, forever.

Emma Madden is a writer based in Brighton, UK. They have written about music and digital culture for The New York Times, GQ, Pitchfork, and many others.