The Lion, the Witch, and the Pinterest Account

Let me preemptively apologize to anyone who showed up expecting anything directly to do with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis, wildlife, sorcery, or lamp posts. The title is meant only to convey my near-total trepidation and the foreign-ness of the realm into which I’ve ventured for all your sakes. Like Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, I didn’t really have any idea what to expect when I pushed through all those old coats and into the magical, frightening realm that lay beyond. But I went boldly into Pinterest to see if the rumors I had heard (1/3 recipes, 1/3 crafts, 1/3 Channing Tatum pictures) were true, and to see if there might, despite its overwhelming reputation as a site for women, be something for us men there, too. This is what I discovered.

10:48 AM – The easiest way to start is probably to use your Facebook account to follow all of your “friends” who use both sites so that you can see what those people have “pinned” (basically, this means they’ve looked at some item or link and deemed it worthy of bearing their stamp of approval). However, since I’m not yet ready to admit to Facebook that I’ve got a Pinterest account – you can only receive one by “invitation,” by the way; they really picked up on the allure of exclusivity that Mark Zuckerburg spends 2/3 of The Social Network talking about) – I’ll settle for using the pre-sorted categories that fall under the “Everything” heading on the main page.

10:55 AM – Categories that look interesting: “Art,” “Education,” “Film, Music & Books” (Does no one have any respect for the Oxford comma?!), “Geek,” “Men’s Apparel,” “Outdoors (not really that interesting for me, but we’ll see),” and “Sports.” Hmm. More than I would have imagined.

11:07 AM – Verdict on the “Art” category: It’s about 10% art, 25% tattoos, 15% scantily clad women (often, these are “artsy” photos of tattooed women with hardly any clothes on, so I guess we can roll that up into 50%), 15% crafts that don’t seem to have anything to do with art (see: lace gun and holster designed for unknown purpose [wedding garter is my guess]), 20% “inspirational” posters, and 15% humorous memes (am I using that right? Memes?).

11:21 AM – I vote for a re-titleing. Might I suggest “Elementary School Spelling Test Words and Random Recipes That Have Nothing to Do With Education.”

Pinterest: It isn’t all pictures of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley kicking around a soccer ball.

11:32 AM – “Film, Music & Books.” Fantastic. If Pinterest has anything of value for me, surely it’s here.

11:34 AM – Early upside: there is TONS of Harry Potter stuff on here. A lot of it is pretty trite (pictures from the movies with people’s inane little inspirational messages typed over top of them) but some of it is well done (some cool hand drawn mock ups of the house dormitories, for example). Downside: Also a lot of Magic MikeFifty Shades of GrayTwilight, and Hunger Games stuff. Pinterest not exactly doing a lot to shed its reputation as a haven for bored housewives.

11:41 AM – A lot of people posting pictures of the book they’re currently reading. If you’re getting a lot of reading recommendations via Pinterest, might I recommend instead? It lets you keep track of what you’re reading, get recs, and they do some cool book club-type stuff where they have live chats with authors. Just a thought.

11:43 AM – Best thing I found on this board: 101 Books to Read This Summer Besides 50 Shades of Gray, presented as a flowchart.

11:46 AM – The “Geek” board is probably not a safe place for me to be. I do have a son to watch after, after all. There’s this. And this. And THIS! Alright, I’d better move on.

12:14 PM – The “Men’s Apparel” board is like a hub for shallowness. Yes, the clothes are cool, but there’s something disconcerting about having this much concentrated subtext regarding physical appearance in one place. Neat tie, now I’d better leave.

12:22 PM – I can’t decide whether the “Outdoors” board is exactly what I expected it to be or nothing like I expected it to be. On the one hand, I had assumed – correctly, from what I’ve seen so far – that Pinterest is dominated by women’s interests. Hence, most of the “Outdoors” board is pictures of vacation destinations (many of which are incredibly cool) or back yard landscaping/renovation projects that might feature on HGTV. On the other hand, I thought that if guys were going to congregate all in one place on Pinterest, it might be the “Outdoors” board. However, aside from a few camping pins, there isn’t a whole lot of guy-centric things. A lot of the landscape shots are unbelievable, though.

12:35 PM – Obviously, Pinterest makes no effort to screen pins across categories. When I clicked the “Sports” board, the first thing that popped up was a recipe for cheesy bread. Delicious, I’m sure, but not exactly what I would go there for. You’re better off going to Grantland, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or any one of another dozen sports sites to get some good content.

12:40 PM – Here’s the thing: most of the stuff on Pinterest is just interesting enough to keep me scrolling down, but very little of it is interesting enough to warrant a click to see what’s behind the curtain, so to speak. The best equivalent I can think of is those magazines that sit on the desk in a doctor’s office. Maybe they have the newest issue of TIME or Sports Illustrated, but usually it’s a four week-old copy of Men’s Fitness or Car and Driver, which is fine as long as you’re at the doctor’s office, because, really, what else are you going to do with that time (unless you brought a book to the waiting room like a responsi… never mind, just stick with me)? But who would want to drag those old magazines home with them and flip through them for hours on end? Sure, you might find a great new ten-minute ab workout or learn a few tips for getting better gas mileage, but more often than not, you’ll be wading through a bunch of junk that just barely registers before you move on to the next thing. I think Pinterest is just a more varied, convenient version of the same thing. I will freely admit that it’s easy to get wrapped up in, but so are awful reality TV shows; that doesn’t mean it’s worth the time. I’m sure that this comes of as sanctimonious, but I hope it’s at least worth thinking about. I’m not saying that Pinterest is inherently bad, just that after spending a couple of hours on it, it’s easy to see how it eats so much of people’s time day after day and how potentially problematic that can be.

Ah well. Time to find my way back through the coats. Unfortunately, when one returns from Pinterest, they find that time in the real world has been passing at the same rate as it does it that exotic fantasyland.

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  1. Friday At Five September 7th 2012: A Weekend Project | thethingaboutflying - September 7, 2012

    […] my wife found a DIY coffee table on Pinterest.  You may be familiar with Pinterest because of this post from Josh, or maybe because it is one of the most popular sites in the world right now.  Then again you […]

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