If You Liked It, Then You Should Have Put A Pin In It
I just got engaged. And even though I’m not interested in starting any hardcore planning, I do have thoughts/ideas/curiosities/fantasies about what might take place some time down the road. So I figured that I might as well do what all newly engaged people seem to do to fritter away pent up ante-nuptial energies, and I joined Pinterest.
Pinterest calls itself a “virtual pinboard,” which lets users organize images, recipes and other things they find on the Web. Despite the fact that it was formed by three dudes, Pinterest seems (from my anecdotal experiences using it) to be populated almost exclusively by women (If you’re a fan of actual numbers, it has been reported that 83% of its users are female). I guess that comports with the ration of women to men who are actively involved in planning a wedding, but I have no doubt that there are economists far more capable than myself studying the question.
Another explanation may be that, at bottom, Pinterest seems to be about nesting (an activity associated with females as well). The central activity of Pinterest involves taking shiny things from one corner of the web or another pinner’s nest and adding it to one’s own. Once in the nest, the beautiful idea or product represents a call to action or inspiration, there to sit and stare you in the face, almost like the pinups an adolescent cuts out and pastes to their walls. The act of pinning is not so much active and involved as it is aspirational and reflective. Like the brightly colored, glossy magazines at the grocery store checkout, Pinterest allows users to bathe themselves in a fantasy that the images set before them represent the user’s actual life. It’s sort of like The Secret brought to social networking (a Pinterest board is nothing if not a vision board, after all).
However, despite all that is legitimately laudable about Pinterest, I do have a few gripes based on my limited experience. Because people don’t have to actually consume/buy/use whatever products they pin, you end up seeing a lot of impractical or half-baked (literally) ideas and inexpert or unartful labelling and categorization by amateurs. For example, adding a random fruit juice to champagne DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A COCKTAIL, ladies of Pinterest. Nor is anything with caramel in it a martini of any kind, no matter what glass you put it in. And if the word “decadence” is in the name of the drink, you’re probably doing it wrong. One thing Pinterest can definitely show you is the depths of the varieties of flavored vodka: “iced cake” and “kissed caramel” vodka are actual things apparently used by people in drinks.
Of course, you can chalk up anything distasteful to the tastes of the users themselves. The fact that you see a lot of stuff you’d disagree with on an aesthetic level just shows that Pinterest is much like other social networks in terms of displaying a profile of each user. What may set Pinterest apart is that the user gets to re-examine their own pinboard, a composite of their tastes, interests, and habits. Users may even perform some analytics on themselves (and hopefully their drinking habits) in order to figure out what it is each user actually wants in their nest. Luckily for me, I already found my lady.