Pinterest, much like
the little black dress or the Birkin bag (depending on your tax
bracket), has suddenly become the new must-have for women. It's the
latest social media craze -- and it's blowing Google+ out of the water,
despite, or perhaps because of, what some media outlets project is a
user base that skews about three-quarters female.
I don't quite
remember the first time I heard of Pinterest, which is most likely
because it was mentioned alongside knitting or pickling or some such
activity I only half pay attention to. But once it was on my radar, I
quickly developed a bad case of "red car syndrome." Suddenly Pinterest
was everywhere, in particular all over my Facebook minifeed next to
pretty pictures of homemade fruit tarts and hand-crocheted sweaters. I'm
no expert on crafting, but I do get excited about new technology. I
Eventually I got the gist, which is to create a virtual
vision board made up of anything that strikes my fancy on the
interwebs. I figured out how to add the "Pin It" button to my browser,
which bookmarks the things I like and attaches them to one of my aptly
named boards ("Hungry Eyes" for food, "Walk-in Closet" for cute clothes,
and so on).
But the supposed joy of Pinterest really comes from
window-shopping friends' boards and "repinning" their fabulous finds. My
friends had so many, I quickly became preoccupied with filling up my
white space. How shameful to have a vision board with no visions, after
This should be a splendid little activity, a way to nurture
my inner creative goddess by discovering pieces of inspirational flair:
recipes for charming home-baked minicakes and the perfect pie crust,
instructions for canning and herb growing and making hanging flowerpots
out of silk scraps and Wiffle balls, photos of the perfect curtains for
my dream house, and patio furniture for the expansive lanai that will go
with it. Images like these should excite me, motivate me, even.
Certainly, they should make me feel good.
Instead, Pinterest makes me feel like a dejected loser.
I missed the memo that said we ladies are now expected not only to hold
down jobs but also to knit, craft and bake from scratch again. Wasn't
it just a few years ago that all signs pointed to rejection of these
things? Too many Sex and the City reruns had me thinking it was
still OK to use cake mixes and purchase my scarves, but Pinterest
jolted me into the new reality, and apparently I have a lot of catching
up to do.
The problem is, I'm not catching up. With Pinterest, I'm
actually just amassing a huge to-do list that I'm unlikely to check a
single item off of, ever. It's yet another layer of virtual ADD. "Ooh! I
should totally craft those adorable tin can luminaries!" For about 10
minutes. Until, "I totally want to make that delish-looking guacamole
To my Pinterest friends -- many of whom, by the very
nature of social media, see the online me far more often than the
physical one -- this recipe now represents me: I am a person who makes
interesting dips. Except I don't, not yet, anyway. The reality is, I've
never even made homemade salsa, much less guacamole, yet suddenly this
image of a salsa-guac combo is a reflection of what I'm about? In that
case, I'd better get on it.
My Pinterest boards have become the
virtual equivalent of that pile of mail I keep meaning to go through yet
haven't, so it just keeps growing and stressing me out. The more stuff I
pin, the more I feel like a failure.
Of course I'm doing it
wrong. Pinterest shouldn't be about curating the perfect Martha
Stewart-approved page; it should be about sharing ideas with friends.
Which sounds like a nice thing, except for that pesky phenomenon called
correspondence bias. In terms of social media, that means we take the
happy imagery plastered on our friends' profiles to be an accurate
representation of their lives. It continually tricks us into thinking
they've got it together. Our psyches tell us our friends really are
making salsa-guac and minicakes and cute flowerpots. And that makes us
feel like we suck -- because we're not.
If I were really being
honest, I'd have just one Pinterest board: the "I'll Probably Never
Buy/Use/Cook/Craft/Afford This, But I Like It Anyway!" kind. Something
tells me that would bring down Pinterest's giddy vibe, though, so I play
I tell myself that recognizing the endless cycle of
Pinterest envy is at least a step in the right direction. That is, until
I see a pin with instructions on how to properly "style" a coffee
table, and my palms sweat. Mine is strewn with old magazines, and I'm
awful. It begins again.