Social media has taken a disturbing turn. Pinterest emerged two years ago, and lately, it has grown exponentially, especially, among women (over 80% of users in the U.S. are female). In January 2012, it became the fastest website to break the 10 million unique visitors milestone. And now even Michelle Obama and Ann Romney both have Pinterest accounts.
For fuck’s sake.
I stood by silently shaking my head when it was just a cute little photo-sharing site that women used to fantasize about their wedding dresses and their non-existent husbands. Or pin their favorite recipe for a mango salad that they’ve never even tasted. But when we start using it as part of the sociopolitical discourse, I can stay silent no longer.
Pinterest is elementary school show-and-tell without the “tell.” An Amazon wish list without a purpose.
Look at these shoes, I want them. Look this cat, LOL! Look at this fucking hat made of nonsense. Look! Look! Look!
It’s self-induced Attention-Deficit Disorder. It’s offensive laziness. By not using words or sharing actual ideas, people have, in essence, pinned their identity to unoriginal, materialistic things and pop culture references. And yeah, I get it, it’s about easily sharing what you’re interested in with your friends quickly. You know who’s interested in pretty things just like you? Everybody. Or funny pictures of cats trying to drink from a faucet? Everybody. Or wants to make their kitchen look nicer? EVERYBODY!
But you know what? Those things, they just annoy me. I may be judging them too harshly. People like it because it’s easy, casual and a little addicting. The real alarming issue, which I think we all should be concerned about, is that somehow Pinterest has found its way into political relevancy (as aforementioned).
Imagine: you’re watching a presidential debate and the moderator asks, “Mr. President, your opponent pinned ‘fighting terrorism’ on Pinterest, yet, you didn’t. Can you tell the audience why you hate America?” Or a CNN correspondent saying, “Our Pinterest indications show that Candidates So-an-So has been re-pinned 500,000 more times; and therefore, will likely win the race.”
You probably think that I’m overreacting and exaggerating, but think how fast Twitter became a big part in political campaigning and spreading messages. At least, though, we make people accountable for what they say on Twitter or Facebook. There will be at least one person who will take into serious consideration what Michelle or Ann pinned on their boards and their “mutual” interests as one of the criteria for casting their vote. That person’s vote is worth as much as yours. That’s one vote too many based on photographic meta-information.
And really, it doesn’t even have to apply to political situations. If sites like Pinterest start to overtake other social media, we’ll be looking at a generation who can’t make informed decisions about whom to befriend without first seeing their interests photographically. Instead of being able to judge a person by their actions and speech, they connect solely on desire for materialistic things. Instead of sharing original ideas, they merely covet.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope Pinterest succeeds in a manner like LinkedIn, and stays as a useful tool for sharing information among a niche crowd.
If you’re a Pinterest user and disagree with what I’m saying, feel free to pin this and share with your friends. Maybe they’ll have something more optimistic to say about all of this. Well, only if they remember how to share ideas in words, without using a cork-board.
- Eric Wang