The Problem with Pinterest

Oh, Pinterest, what is the point of your existence? I’ve gotta admit, I’ve pretty much given up on it because it seems to serve no greater purpose other than being a convenient way to bookmark links. (My web browser does a good job of that anyways.) That’s not to say I don’t enjoy Pinterest. I like the universal celebration of beauty that seems to be the main focus for Pinterest users. Whether food, fashion, places, or architecture, it’s all about emphasizing the truly beautiful (obviously, conceptions of beauty are always subjective). This polluted, tired, suffocating-under-concrete world is in desperate need of some beauty, so I’m cool with emphasizing that.

Talk about stunning, but would this really make you a happier person? (photo: homedsgn.com)

What weirds me out, though, is how Pinterest’s entire appeal is based on cravings, desire, and lust. It’s common to have boards for future plans: ideal honeymoon destinations, the perfect wedding dress, photos of romance, jewellery I can only dream of owning, places I want to visit, how to decorate a dream house, what that dream house will look like, hot guys, etc. Problem is, it’s dangerously addictive to categorize everything we want and it’s surprising how quickly that list grows. Like a sort of toxic cycle, the more time I spend on Pinterest looking at pictures of seeming perfection, the more my own life appears unsatisfying. Pinterest fuels self-doubt. Why didn’t I do that with my bedroom décor instead? Why didn’t I buy boots like those? We should have gone somewhere else for our honeymoon. I wish I lived in a house like that. How come my hair never looks like that?

I suppose one could criticize my approach and say that dissatisfaction can come from any direction, if allowed to grow — books, movies, TV shows, photos, conversations with friends, design magazines — and maybe it’s not fair of me to blame Pinterest. But there’s something so blatant about the site, as if it’s screaming, “Desire me! Want me! This is what you need to be happy!” The whole purpose of Pinterest, unlike those other sources, is to make users want these things enough to pin them onto boards. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not immune to it either. The appeal is certainly there — and that’s why I have a bunch of pin boards myself.

Didn’t you know this is what the Perfect Proposal is supposed to look like? (photo: theneotraditionalist.com)

Thinking about Pinterest recalled an interview I heard on CBC a couple weeks back. A guy was talking about how the availability of cheap oil isn’t necessarily beneficial to our cultural and mental health: “We’re able to buy cheap stuff, fill our houses with cheap gadgets because we think it makes us happy, then pump our bodies full of drugs because we’re not.” Though the connection is somewhat vague, my point is that Pinterest, like the ability to purchase lots of cheap material possessions, is a distraction from what makes us as humans truly happy. In fact, it does the opposite by making us crave what we cannot afford.

Speaking of cheap oil… You’ll have the best honeymoon in the world if you stay at this underwater hotel in Dubai. Imagine how much better your marriage will be as a result! (photo: archdaily.com)

I wish there was more of a societal emphasis on how great things really are, but I guess that just has to start from the ground up. We do have so much. Despite economic downturns, if you’ve still got a warm, insulated house and a fully stocked fridge, life is actually pretty awesome. No vacation to Fiji or villa in Tuscany is going to make it that much better.

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5 thoughts on “The Problem with Pinterest

  1. I was on Pinterest for a week or two before a combination of its terms and conditions and something else I couldn’t then define sent me skedaddling. It’s been months since I departed, but I never was able to pinpoint it . . . until now. I like my life. I like what’s in it. I can find beauty even in my own run-down apartment, so it seems weird to sit online craving more than the abundant beauty here. I’m content with here. Truly.

  2. Good points – more materialism is the last thing we need if we’re ever going to get to a sustainable future. Maybe someone should start a new version of Pinterest using only used or recycled things, or things observed in nature.

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