Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Postscript on Pinterest

Last time we talked about Pinterest, I did my best to be fair and balanced in describing the thoroughly-blogged-about love/hate relationship many users have with this site. Well, step aside, Switzerland, because I am done being neutral. This time I am going to tell you exactly how I feel about all things Pinterest. Look. Out.

Lake Lucerne, Switzerland.
A place where people are neutral. 
A place where I am not.
I concur with all of the generally agreed-upon advantages - Pinterest really is chock full of super tasty images, from cats wearing leg warmers to the interior of a micro house to a brain hat. Really. I found all these things in a single scroll of my Everything feed just now. It's completely amazing.




Yes, it is intuitive and easy to use. Can you pin photos to a bulletin board? Yes? Ok, you're hired. 

Yes, it is very heady and satisfying. I can capture each and every beautiful image that catches my limits, no price tags. And at the end of a session, I can gaze upon my bountiful boards and see those pins edited down to perfect square tiles, lined up in perfect rows and columns. Sigh. Yes. It's quite enjoyable.

Now, about those negatives:

Yes, it is possible to spend a lot of time on Pinterest. A LOT of time. Yes, it is possible to get to the end of an intense pinning session, look at the clock and go, "Whoa, what happened to the last 14 hours?? Hope the kids got to school alright." And yes, that might be too much Pinterest for anyone's own good.

But on the other hand, I wonder if we are being a bit hard on ourselves. Aren't we allowed to indulge ourselves every now and then? I am pretty sure our mothers and grandmothers knew how to give themselves some harmless daily down time, chatting over the back fence or watching the soaps.  I don't remember them ever expressing regret about it; they seemed to believe that they deserved a break every now and then. I try to follow their lead.

"So last night I glued a bunch of crayons to the top of a canvas.
And then I got my hair dryer and melted the heck out of them,
and you would not believe how cool it looks!"

Does Pinterest breed perfectionism? Hmm. Maybe. I think it depends on what kinds of images you like to pin. Personally, I am drawn to home decor and DIY projects that emphasize resourcefulness over riches and I love that these pins demonstrate that perfection is not the goal, that good things can be made or made over from inexpensive materials or what we have on hand. Ditto for some of the wedding ideas, recipes and fashion pics...there are plenty of down-to-earth, real-people-can-do-this ideas floating around out there, and I can enjoy them without feeling like an inadequate slob.

I have a super cheap IKEA cart almost exactly like this one
and I could paint it turquoise at the snap of a finger.
Home Depot paint department, here I come.

Cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby spray painted silver and
masquerading as Anthropologie metalworks. So legit.

On the other hand, sometimes it gets a little crazy. The cutesy extremes to which some people will go to capture engagements, save-the-dates and weddings, as well as a lot of the family photos, drive me to distraction. Infants stuffed in cowboy boots, eight billion designer wedding gowns, and children's lunches that look like Mater. Yes, if a pinner chooses to believe that her life is less than perfect because she can't afford the time and/or money for such things, then that might be upsetting.

But no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. I know that's true because I read it in a pin. See?

Lastly, I want to address the issue of malaise or discontent that some users feel. Any time that we are feeling down, discouraged or demotivated to live our lives, it's important that we pay attention and figure out what exactly is going on. And maybe, for some people, Pinterest really does just bum them out and the only solution is to just stop pinning. I won't argue that. 

But here is something I've noticed. The people who seem to enjoy Pinterest the most are those who partake of it as a real-life social activity. My college age daughter and her housemates pin together, each on her own laptop but chatting merrily as they go. At least once a day, I bounce ideas off my family by dragging them to my computer to look at a pin, and often we tackle Pinterest-inspired projects together. I love how often a conversation with my friends includes the phrase, "I saw it on Pinterest." We are talking to each other about what we see, and through that process of sharing, we encourage each other to use our pins to motivate and inspire our lives.

How do you share Pinterest with the people in your life? How, if at all, do they encourage you to use Pinterest to inspire your life?

P.S. Let me share with you one last little image. I hope you are inspired to smile.

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