The Internet is obsessed with autumn
September 2022

By Amy Cartledge

Cast your mind back to 2016. 

The rise of the PSL (‘Pumpkin Spiced Latte’). Unheard of in the UK, this hallmark of autumn suddenly appeared all over Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. With it came a flood of ‘Fall’ inspo, from pictures of cosy outfits to picturesque scenes of North American suburbs drowning in leaves. 

Tumblr’s greatest legacy? 

So where did it all begin? The Washington Post writes about Tumblr kicking off the ‘spooky’ craze that took the internet by storm, reaching the furthest corners of American and UK audiences. Gifs of skeletons dancing, Dwight with a pumpkin on his head, mood boards of infinity scarves, Starbucks coffee cups and oceans of fallen leaves were everywhere, spilling over to Twitter by way of @skeletontunes. 

Once it had dominated Tumblr and Twitter, it was only a matter of time before it would spill onto Instagram, which is where we now see swathes of accounts ready and waiting on 1st September to crack out the autumnal content. From interior designers and homeware brands introducing all manner of pumpkin themed item and warm orange tones, to fashion brands releasing new lines that blend ‘Back 2 School’ with the promise of spooky season being upon us soon, we can’t deny the grip that the season has on us. 

But why autumn? 

But of all the seasons, why does the marked change between summer and autumn provoke such an intense reaction from Netizens? 

According to Very Well Mind and experts at Madison Park Psychological Services, the changing of seasons are “temporal landmarks” which divide our life into phases, much like birthdays, Christmases and other big life events. 

Interestingly, it seems we have also been conditioned to perceive the bridge between summer and autumn as significant due to the academic year. Our childhoods were dominated by a schedule that ran to the seasons, with new beginnings (that being the start of a new academic year) coming exactly as the first leaves began to fall. 

There’s no wonder that this landmark feels even more significant, sending signals to our brains that we associate with new purpose and excitement, as well as comfort. 

Fast forward to 2022 

Although for many this may seem like the internet obsession of a bygone era (thanks 2014-16), Glamour magazine did some digging of its own into exactly who is allowing the PSL legacy to live on – and it isn’t just millennials. 

Studies into our current obsession with all things autumn suggest that younger generations have been more exposed to American holidays like Halloween, and crave the comfort and cosiness we so often associate with this season at a time when uncertainty, instability and inequality are at the forefront of the media we consume. 

Now, we barely get to say goodbye to British Summer Time before social media is flooded with TikToks, posts and Tweets proclaiming that autumn is upon us. The same goes for the high street: you’d need only take a quick trip to your local shopping area to find all kinds of autumnal paraphernalia filling the aisles. It’s seemingly a clear cycle – the more we consume fall content, the more we desire to emulate this cosy, autumnal ‘vibe’ in our own life. 

From brands using the season to sell new collections to content creators switching up their colour palettes, autumn has truly taken over the digital space. 

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