OPINION: Is Pinterest just a beautiful but sad fantasy land?


Now before I begin, know that I’m a big fan of Pinterest. I see how the very clever and popular visual inspiration site is useful to individuals and even brands alike. I use it for all different kinds of purposes from bookmarking articles, collecting images as inspiration for projects and just looking at places I’d like to go and hair I’d like to have (yes, sometimes I’m that shallow). But, I can’t help but think there’s something a little sad about sitting there collecting together beautiful and idyllic images day in and day out.

Yesterday as I sat there re-pinning all kinds of photos, I started thinking about how and why I use Pinterest. I’ve been using it for quite a while now (not in a cringeworthy “I had it before you” kinda way) and find that most of the things I pin are really useful to me. In many ways I use it as a way to bookmark sites and articles, whether it’s a piece about a cool gadget or a make-up tutorial, and find that saving a photo rather than a link in some random bookmarks folder just works so much better for me and suits the way my brain is wired. I then save some things for future inspiration (like a tattoos board of designs I’d like one day) or motivation (a bit of a cheesy board with fitness quotes to get me out running) and I’ve never found a better way to store that kind of content before.

However, I’ve found that some part of my time on Pinterest is just spent looking at the lovely lives of others and re-pinning, re-pinning and re-pinning. Whether it’s things I wish I was eating or places I wish I was or people I wish I looked like or a bag I wish I could afford. Although 90% of my time on Pinterest is productive and about collecting together images I need to refer to in the future (like a gadget I want to write about for Shiny, a recipe I want to cook or a place I want to visit in summer), others were pinned in a dreamy daze and I know I’m not the only one who’s done that in the past few weeks, even if none of you are willing to admit it.

Part of me thinks there’s nothing wrong with looking at lovely images because (despite the fact I have no experience in psychology) I imagine it has a positive impact on your well-being and mood. But, at the same time it seems there’s something very sad about living your life through a series of beautiful, dreamy images when really we should be out there making them ourselves.

As I thought about Pinterest and how myself and all the people I follow are using it, I was reminded of a great piece by BitchBuzz editor, Cate Sevilla, a few months ago about how far too many of us are living our lives vicariously through photos on Tumblr. Although Cate was mainly referring to the lives of bloggers on Tumblr, I think in a way we’re still living our lives vicariously through Pinterest photos, even if we don’t know the identity of the people in them.

In many ways this has absolutely nothing to do with Pinterest, but more to do with the fact we spend so much of our time online looking at images. Images that will help us, motivate us and prove useful in the future, but also those that will make us day dream, waste time and make us want to be somewhere or even someone else.

As with every social network, it totally depends on how you use it, I’m sure a lot of users just pin the the sensible stuff and bookmark a cool article or a piece of street art they think is awesome. But you only have to go browse through other boards (and sites like We Heart It) to see that’s not how everyone uses it. Maybe it’s something wrong with me and the other day dreamers out there, maybe we’re destined to be airy-fairy observers who don’t JUST GET ON WITH IT.

But, from now on I certainly won’t be giving up on Pinterest. After all, it’s probably my favourite place to scurry away to online. However, I might not fall into the rabbit hole of pinning things because I want them in my life anymore and only collect together images that are useful and will get me out there doing things later and not keep me locked up in a little beautiful fantasy land.

How do you find yourself using Pinterest? There’s nothing wrong with re-pinning lovely things, but do you think you get a little carried away?

Becca Caddy

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