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I’ve been on Pinterest more or less since the beginning. I was initially very reluctant to get into contemporary social networking; I used to think Facebook was a little bit pointless. Why use this profile thing to communicate when I can directly contact friends online with MSN Messenger? Ah, the good old days. My memory is hazy about the process of initially joining Pinterest. I believe you had to have an invite? No matter. This post is about the good and bad bits of using Pinterest, from a long term user who is trying to get into the minimalist mindset of owning less stuff, experiencing life with less distraction.
1) The Good.
a) It’s a scrapbook, but it doesn’t take up space in your house.
My wife loves scrapbooks. It’s been part of her life for a long time. Me? I’m the opposite, in that I’d never even heard of scrapbooks until I met her. Sure, I collected things and kept sentimental items, but I didn’t archive them in one place. I’ve noticed now that pins aren’t even described as that anymore – they’re now called ‘ideas’ in notifications on Pinterest. Pinterest is a huge scrapbook of stuff online we like and want. There’s definitely some shakey ground there, as the limitless potential of a pinboard means that things can get lost, that it can drive the mindset of accumulating more and more. Oh, I don’t have a red t-shirt on my ‘Clothes I want’ board, I must add one, you think. But nowadays I like to approach it as something I go back to and edit or curate, so that it remains relevant to me at this very time.
b) It’s quick.
With the integration into browsers, Pinterest is no longer an after-thought but a whole reason to web browse nowadays.
c) It’s friendly. Perhaps it’s because Pinterest has always been a very feminine social network, or at least that’s how I saw it when I first joined it. Perhaps a silly insecurity was the reason why I didn’t use it for many years – I didn’t want to do something openly, online, that was considered girly. Now, of course, it’s full of gentlemen pinners (if that’s a phrase) – #menswear etc. Gender politics aside, the whole enterprise is that it’s ‘things that I/we like’. Compare this to the angry, often misogynistic, commenting communities on many sites like YouTube and it puts the site in a nice perspective. I’ve never seen any hostility on there, and I doubt I will.
2) The Bad. It’s a distraction.
Like all social media, it’s based on algorithms, pushing us towards things we think we like. Instead of ‘likes’, it’s ‘pins’. Like a rat in a maze, we are funnelled into ‘clicking’ on loads of stuff. Like I say above, it’s a reason to browse…and too often that can be pure procrastination.
So it all depends on whether we accept the premise of social networks – whether we see them as positive or not. Whether the ‘experience’ of using Pinterest is positive or not is, obviously, subjective; the site is about subjective tastes.
3) The verdict.
If we take the positive aspects of sites like Pinterest, and turn them into cultivating our interests, of inspiring us to be creative, then yeah: it’s a good thing. Our whole society is pretty much a pursuit of ‘what I like’, anyway, and the modern minimalist mindset is about dealing with that gargantuan flow of information. Pinterest is, as much as it is a random collection of links and pictures, a record of what our society holds as its ideal. The many pins about minimalist spaces? A worthy fantasy – or a pastiche of our desired life?