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

signed up.

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

salsa dip!”

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.

Follow Ali Trachta on Twitter at @MySo_CalLife and for more arts news follow @LAWeeklyArts.

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