An aside to begin: I actually contemplated writing out a manifesto of sorts for my son. I titled it: “Things to Keep in Mind Before Asking a Girl on a Date” and it included this rule:
1. Find out if she is on Pinterest. And then check her boards out. If there is one there titled “OMG My Dream Wedding Someday Just Gotta Find The Man haha” and it’s filled with whimsical photos of a perfect wedding, dozens of dresses, cunning favours, and artistic photography poses, then here is my advice: RUN FOR THE HILLS.
My friend, Rachel Held Evans wrote an insightful article this past week in praise of her pre-Pinterest wedding. I also had a pre-Pinterest wedding and I’ve written about that before, in particular my $35 wedding ring (which hasn’t fit since the second baby and now I wear a $9 metal one but I digress). Ever since, I’ve been thinking and wondering about the Pinterest.
Those of you that hang out here occasionally know this truth: I like Pinterest. I don’t use it as much as I did a few months ago, but I’ve found it useful and inspiring for my life, particularly as a new homeschooler and as inspiration in my life. (My greatest Pinterest accomplishment has been my Wise Women board.)
But here is the thing I have noticed about Pinterest:
We pin the clothes we wish we wore.
We pin the places we wish we could visit.
We pin the home we wish we lived in.
We pin the crafts we wish we had time to do.
We pin the quotes and sentiments that we wish defined us more.
We pin the meals we wish we made.
Really, we pin the life we wish we had.
I mentioned this to Brian one evening and, like any self-respecting armchair theologian couple, we had a good row about the postmodern need to define and identify and differentiate ourselves based on what we consume or purchase.
It’s a tension for our generation because we claim to eschew typical consumerism, we pooh-pooh the Walmart. We see what we purchase or desire as an extension of our identity. So we still want to buy and consume, we want to be unique so we copy someone else’s ideas, we still want to surround ourselves with our stuff. We want people to know who we are by what we wear, think, cook, espouse, read, or craft. (And now, add “pinning all the things” to that list.
Pinterest is the fantasy league of consumerism and it speaks to the larger issues that we battle as a society: I am my image, I am what I consume, I am what I purchase, I am what I desire. How will anyone know I’m cool and quirky and fun and unique if I don’t have the stuff that proves it? We become avatars of our true self, unable to be without the proper accoutrements to display it.
We mistake our Stuff for our Self. And then when we pin it or we do it or, even better, if someone else pins it or likes it or comments on it, we feel reinforced in our yearned-for identity.
Whether it’s through fashion or art, technological gadgets, music, books, paint colours, vintage furniture, homeschool hacks, craft and so on, we think that if we have it, we are buying or pinning the lifestyle that it represents, the lifestyle that I wish was mine, the person I wish that I was.
Let’s not even talk about how this kind of visual wormhole can lead to discontent or feelings of failure and inadequacy. I feel a tremendous amount of pressure when I look at Pinterest. Like somehow I’m not funky and quirky and cool and creative enough. I wear a lot of drab colours and couldn’t pull off a top-knot if my life depended on it, my tinies do not have carefully decorated bedrooms, and Ryan Gosling isn’t all “Hey, girl” about much in my life. I can’t just make a cake for my sister, no, I have to make a damn picaken, oh, pardon me, #DamnPicaken. (Inside joke for my Twitter and Facebook followers. If you missed it, I live-tweeted making a picaken yesterday – that’s a pie baked inside of a birthday cake and then covered with icing – yesterday and it was probably the lowest point of my Twitter career and completely the fault of Pinterest influenced by the very dear Jamie the Very Worst Missionary.)
I suppose it’s like anything else in our life. Pinterest itself is benign; it’s more what it exposes about our own heart, our own desires, our own inadequacies.
(And now I’m going to publish this post so I can be the first one to pin it.)