In the Netflix documentary Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Elisa Lam’s posts on the social media platform Tumblr are explored and highlighted.
College student, Elisa Lam’s body was recovered in a rooftop water tank at the infamous Los Angeles hotel, Cecil Hotel. As discussed throughout Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, Lam was a blogger with a heavy presence on the website Tumblr.
Lam used her blog Nouvelle/Nouveau (translated to: trendy/new) to post pictures of art and quotes, as well as text posts about her own life experience. These posts are read aloud throughout the documentary, guiding its audience through the invigorating story by taking a deep look at the person Lam was.
On the surface, it appears as though the blog has been shut down— its homepage remains blank. However, the buttons under the page’s title are still clickable and her posts have been archived.
When the button “ETC” is clicked, Lam’s “about me” section appears.
Here, she wrote, “I don’t know [how] to explain myself and I have a feeling that I never will know who I am so instead of an abstract and useless description I will assure you that I am not a nutjob that hunts for their next victim on the internet. I, however, will think everyone else is a pedophile thanks to To Catch a Predator. I’m logical like that.”
She goes on to list some facts about herself in a series of bullet points. The facts include, “I am twenty-something student in Canada, I have [crossed out text that reads: no idea] some idea what I’m studying, I have typical twenty-something issues (specifically bipolar depression) and every now and then I’ll talk about it sarcastically, despite saying I hate people a lot, I actually enjoy (and require) human interaction but my inability to go outside means I’ll only contact the outside world anonymously and over the internet.”
From this page, one can find links to her commonly used tags such as “food” and “music.” The page is also linked to a style Tumblr called bruitdefond that has zero posts and a Formspring account that has an outdated safety certificate.
Her “ETC” page also links to her listography website where Lam lists her favorite things from various topics, like books to fashion. Under piano pieces to practice she lists the song Fix You by Coldplay and under her favorite quick reads, she lists The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
To access her achieved posts on Tumblr, underneath her title is the clickable link “archive.” On this page, her posts can be rearranged by tags, date, and post type. Although she went missing towards the end of January 2013 and her body was recovered in February, her posts mysteriously continue until December 2013.
It could be possible that she used Tumblr’s scheduled posts function that would allow her to schedule certain posts for a later time, although it’s an odd selection of posts to be made at a later time with little relevance to its date. For example, there was a Zelda related video reblogged in April 2013.
Her last text post was written on January 29, two days before her disappearance. It reads:
“I have arrived in Laland…
and there is a monstrosity of a building next to the place I’m staying
when I say monstrosity mind you I’m saying as in gaudy
but then again it was built in 1928 hence the art deco theme so yes it IS classy but then since it’s LA it went on crack
Fairly certain this is where Baz Lurhmann needs to film the Great Gatsby”
While Netflix’s latest documentary gives its viewers an extensive look into Elisa Lam’s last moments, her Tumblr page is her diary. It documents her life journey and vulnerabilities, and everything that she was willing to share with an audience.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel is currently streaming on Netflix.