Much Ado About Pinterest

Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest!

Pins of Pinterest! Pinning our hopes on Pinterest!

The Year of the Pins!

Okay, I’m getting a little tired of the buzz.

Granted, I’m not in the demographic – e.g., surly journalist who last did a craft at summer camp when he was 12. I’m also not clear about why there is so much fuss. So you can look through a bunch of pins and find cool stuff, then buy that cool stuff? Sounds a bit like Amazon.com.

To me, the most curious development is that we’re all talking more about Pinterest now than ever before. Apparently, millions upon millions of people (let’s be honest for once: most of the users are women) got hooked on pinning this last year, and now we’re starting to analyze why.

The same thing happened when I was a kid. Everyone got hooked on Pop Rocks. Oh, I’m telling you. It was fantastic. We’d walk into the 7-11 and buy a weekly supply. You put them in your mouth and, good Lord! A mysterious burst of explosive kinetic energy for only 50 cents a pack.

Now, I’m a big fan of Nassim Nicholas Taleb and his books about random events, but I’m not sure if even the Great and Mighty could tackle this epoch in history. And Pop Rocks are almost exactly like Pinterest. They are cut from the same cloth. What causes rampant fascination with one thing and not another? Is there something mystical about thumbnail-sized pottery photos?

Of course, anyone who has kept up on my blogging these past few weeks (thank you small number of people in Des Moines and my good friends in Portland!) know one thing. I have an opinion.

And here it is: Pinterest is a zeitgeist. I mean, seriously: there is nothing else that summarizes our current mindset. We have a 4-second attention span, or about the load time for a page full of kitten sweaters. We don’t read, we browse. Random pictures of random things by random people. That’s us.

I just pulled up the Pinterest home page right now. Holy Mother of the World Wide Web, there is pork tenderloin. It looks amazing, dripping with butter. Wait, hang on. Bob curls? I’m seriously going to tell everyone I know about this. Abstract poem about a random topic I don’t understand? Pinned. Here’s a top ten list from someone. It’s from 2010. Who cares! I don’t mind if this stuff is woefully outdated, I just like top tens. Let’s see. Bride gowns, check. Zombie Apocalypse Guide, ordered. Random saying about giving joy to the world in a pin that looks like a present, Facebooked.

So, scrolling down. Josh Brolin, cool. I really can’t stand Katy Perry, but…this Peek-a-Boo Kitten photo is hilarious! Now, more scrolling. That Unreal picture of a bridge is unreal. Links aplenty. Pins galore. Random posters of seals and possums being playful. Poetry, crafts, quilts, mesmerizing.

But I still don’t get it. I guess we’re curating and dissecting in real-time. We have too much information at our disposal so we need something to guide us. Internet time moves at a faster pace, no time for reading. Yet, after browsing through page after page of pins, where is the depth? Where is something I can add to my formation as a human being and lock into my psyche for long-term benefit? Where’s the meat? (I mean other than that pork tenderloin, because I am planning on making that for lunch.)

There is something both fascinating and disturbing about this trend. We see, we click. And maybe this is all making us smarter, despite what the one dude says about Google. We’re certainly exposed to more style and fashion, more opinions, more interests. (Get that? More interests? I might be onto something there.) We have formed a collective consciousness that feeds into the mother hive, there are new strands of connection, we’re a hypercell.

But Pop Rocks, they have no intrinsic value. If you lived on Pop Rocks, you would die. I had an editor once who called me a Grandpa, and I am learning to embrace that term (not literally, though – I have nothing to announce). I’m clinging to the hope that human beings can connect on a deeper level. I think the main reason I don’t get Pinterest, other than my complete disinterest in crafts, is that I don’t see the value. I’m sorry if that is offensive. Let’s say you use Pinterest 15 hours in a day: you are getting a good finger workout. Some small business owners are raking in the cash by posting their stuff on Pinterest. I get that. And, honestly, I have other ways of mindlessly browsing random links – and I’m to blame for making some of them.

But enough already. Pinterest is a zeitgeist but it is not deep. No one will write a book about how Pinterest changed their life. (Oh crap, someone wrote a book about how Pinterest changed their life.) We’re not talking about cell replication and human cloning here. There’s no discussion about the eternal beyond or why the ice caps are sinking so quickly. (Unless you count the pins that explain how the ice caps are sinking, which are cool.) I think Pinterest will have a good run, but being a zeitgeist does not mean you will usher in a new age of enlightenment with a kitten photo.

Wait, I need to go back to the home page again. Someone just posted one.

Blatant plug: Four new Pinterest tools

 
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