Pinterest and Other Forms of Crack


In February, I was assigned an article about a little social networking site called Pinterest that had become the fastest growing website in history. I put the information together and told my husband how stupid I thought Pinterest looked. An online bulletin board? How could that possibly be interesting?

Fast forward to today. This morning, I spent at least an hour playing on Pinterest. I looked up office decorating supplies that I wanted and pinned all of the pictures onto my Pinterest board entitled “Ideas that are Just So Smart.” The items weren’t particularly exciting: a robot pencil holder, fabric-covered magnets, notepads covered with stupid puns. Yet I found the experience, well, relaxing. There was something Zen-like about searching for pictures of my favorite office supplies and clicking “Pin It.”

I can see you, virtual reader. You are shaking your head and saying, “Get a life.” I do have a life, and I want to share it with you via Pinterest. For instance, do you know that I compulsively buy office supplies? Some girls buy shoes, other girls buy Farmville credits, still other girls buy zombie T-shirts, but I buy office supplies. Sticky notes, binder clips, notebooks, pens—I have a certain pen that I like, by the way, the Pilot Gel V7 (not the V5, dammit)—shelves, organizing trays, whatever.

The office supply obsession actually reveals a lot about me. I’m on a constant quest to streamline life. What you call Type A, I call efficient living. Now, my house is not a particularly organized space. I do have two young kids after all, and they are among nature’s more destructive forces. However, in many ways, I constantly strive for perfection. I love the checklist, the written plan and the schedule. I like for all of life’s moving parts to be well-greased and in perfect working condition.

That’s why I love office supplies. They, like the Borg Queen, bring order to chaos. The prioritize things. They make things neat. They have a nice heft in the hand. Some of them have chickens on them, like the “Poultry in Motion” notepad that I just pinned to Pinterest this morning.

Pinterest will also tell you that I love to travel. I have pinned many photos onto my board called “Places I Love.” I inherited my love for travel from my father. He and I rarely speak now because of reasons that are too morose and lengthy for a blog. However, many of the places that I pinned to my Pinterest board I pinned because his constant restlessness and his inability to be happy often put him behind the wheel of a car with me in the passenger seat. He spends hours making maps on his desktop map software; I download travel apps. It’s the one positive connection that I have to him, the memories of the places that we went together in whichever old Chrysler he was restoring at the time.

I have a pinboard called “Tasty Food” to which I pinned a delectable picture of some Lake Champlain chocolates. You can go to any mall in America and have Godiva chocolate, but Lake Champlain chocolates are indigenous to Vermont. They are less about creamy, delicious chocolate (okay, maybe they are all about creamy delicious chocolate) and more about the hunt that I am always on to find some new hole-in-the-wall place to eat or some obscure local delicacy in my travels.

Facebook and Twitter are all about how you present yourself. You can build an online personality through posted statuses, tweets and pictures of yourself. Actual research shows that people who spend the most time on Facebook assume that their Facebook friends and acquaintances are much happier than they actually are. On Facebook, it’s easier to lie.

Pinterest is more subtle. Of course, I could pin pictures of craft projects from Martha Stewart and HGTV to convince you that I, too, can create the perfect party favors delivered in a perfectly decorated house. If you pin what you truly like, however, Pinterest becomes quite visceral. It’s the story of you told strictly in nouns. Look at someone’s Pinterest site, collect three objects, and put together a story.

My theory is that Pinterest is both shallower than Facebook and deeper than Facebook could possibly ever be. Which isn’t saying much, I know, but hear me out. On one hand, Pinterest is shallow in that it resembles the online water cooler conversation. We talk to colleagues or acquaintances about nuggets of pop culture or about the random things that we like. On the other hand, Pinterest is deep in that the innocence of simply posting what you like tells a much more honest story than the put-together self that you present on Facebook or the witty, pithy tweets that you work for hours to compose.

Message me if you’d like a Pinterest invite (you have to be invited to join). If you want to buy me a present, visit my pinboard entitled “Random Things that I Want…In Addition to World Peace, Of Course.” But if you want to know more about who I am, take one of those pictures and ask me to explain it to you. You might be surprised what lies behind those pins.

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