“I really hate Pinterest.” I was shocked by my daughter's statement. She loved Pinterest. She had pinned every part of her daughter, Annie's, birthday party, complete with blue and orange homemade cake bites, darling blue and orange tissue paper flowers, and an Italian soda bar with — you guessed it — matching blue and orange straws. So, why the hatred? Why be upset at a social medium that offered so many creative, healthy, inspiring ideas?
My daughter is one of the 70 million worldwide “pinners” that use Pinterest as their go-to site for all things domestic, personal and inspirational. Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media sites. Started in 2010, it now has a market share of over 30 percent of all social media, including one-half of all iPad social shares. It is a billion dollar industry that is leading our decorating, cooking, partying and exercising movements. It is a social media scrapbook that is as valuable as it is beautiful. It can, however, also cause young mothers undo pressure by setting unrealistic expectations.
Like all social media, Pinterest is a tool that can be used for our good. Too much of a good thing, however, can be harmful to our psyche. On Pinterest, we “pin” our likes on our created boards. The pins are ideas, how-to's and recipes shared publicly by millions of users. The pins represent not who you are, but who you want to be. Pins can “confer upon you status, or value, or relevance by association. More so than any of its contemporaries, Pinterest indulges an ethos that says: I like, therefore I am.”
We can easily overload our boards, and misuse Pinterest as an unattainable reality. In short, Pinterest has the ability to make us unhappy in our own lives and situations.
Here are five ways to avoid Pin-exhaustion:
1. Realize that normal is the new beautiful.
Repeat after me: Normal is beautiful! A birthday party that doesn't have handmade origami Olaf's and an ice sculpture of Elsa's castle is normal, and can still turn out wonderfully. Cute little details are a nice touch, but make sure to be realistic about what you want to accomplish, and don't get down on yourself if everything you had planned doesn't work out.
Pinterest also has health, exercise and relationship advice. Again, normal women have normal lives, replete with jiggly body parts and not-always-perfect relationships. These tips and ideas Pinterest supplies are exactly that — tips and ideas, and should not be seen as standards that make us inadequate if we do not reach them perfectly.
2. Aspire, not expect.
Using Pinterest as a tool for fun, healthy, creative ideas can give us inspiration. However, young mothers have a tendency to think that this is the expectation. My daughter had pinned so many darling ideas for Annie's party, she became convinced that she would let everyone down if it wasn't “pin worthy.” A simple mantra to remember is “Some is fun.” Take some of the ideas from your boards, and have fun with those chosen few. I promise, the Pinterest police will not cite you for doing your normal, fun, creative best.
3. Consider the source.
A majority of sites are profit driven — the more you pin or like, the more advertisement and endorsement money they receive. Retailers are often interested in the product lines behind the pins. Bloggers want you to pin their idea, product or information.
According to Reggie Ugwu of Pop Culture, an enormous effort goes into enticing you to pin. “The focus here is as much on the pinner as it is on that which was pinned. Pinterest users jostle for the elusive Internet resource known as “followers,” so the game is to post the most beautiful/humorous/awe-inspiring images/memes/products — the vast majority of which were more than likely created or owned by someone else.”
So remember, pins can be a form of advertising that is specifically designed to make you pin and follow the web link. Consider the source of your pins, factoring in the business entity that created that pin. It may make a difference on what you choose to pin.
4. Beware of pin overload.
Pinterest has over one billion pin boards, and over 50 billion pins have been created. It would be impossible to view every pin, even in one specific category. The average pinner spends 14 minutes per visit viewing pins. That is a lot of time, and a lot of pins. If you are not focused on what you are looking for, you can wander through Pinterest-land for hours. Browsing may not be healthy for your psyche. It may be too much, too beautiful and too stimulating to be good for you. Pin overload can create an anxiety of “I pinned, therefore I must.” Be judicious in choosing your pins. Pin carefully, picking the very best, inspirational and/or doable pins for your boards. Keeping your boards simple keeps you from overload, and allows you to focus on the few awesome pins you can use.
5. Social privacy.
Remember, this a social media, and unless you personally create a secret board (a recently added privacy feature), all of your boards are public, and anyone can view them. While Pinterest is currently driving more traffic than Twitter, it does not yet have all of the privacy settings of Facebook. Just be aware of your pins and stray away from anything too personal or intimate on public boards.
Pinterest is a valuable, beautiful, user-friendly tool that we can use to create, inspire and improve our lives. Use it wisely. Misuse can lead to anxiety and guilt; and guilt can stifle our creativity. Trust me — I saw it on Pinterest.
Jolene Jones lives in Alpine, Utah, She has a Masters in Public Administration and serves on the board of a local nonprofit. She can be reached at email@example.com