The Problem with Pinterest

Like the inimitable fuzzy creatures of a similar alliteration, users of the social networking site Pinterest are reproducing like, err, rabbits. Just how fast is the little pinboard that could growing? According to never-wrong Wikipedia, in March of 2012 it surpassed LinkedIn and something called Tagged to become the third largest in the world.

I never really got it, though, at least, until recently. But I’m still not sure I get it. I mean, I get it in theory — Pinterest allows visual organization of items into categories, useful for storing, say, recipes, paint colors, carpet swatches, wristwatches, renovation ideas, or photographic inspiration — I don’t get it in practice and implementation.

Upon perusing the website for the first time, I was struck by a veritable avalanche of eye shadows, half-naked men, lipsticks, wedding rings, platitudes, eye shadows, wedding rings, half-naked men, platitudes, eye shadows, eye shadows, platitudes, lipsticks, half-naked men, platitudes, and eye shadows. I know the site’s demographic is mainly women (85% feels like the right number, although I’m too lazy even while typing this to source that for you or verify it in any way, shape, or form — think with your gut, not with your brain!), but it felt like I had stumbled onto a digital 14 year-old girl’s bulletin board. Surely the female form must have more varied interests than this. (But really, seriously.)

After further visits with and persuasion from female associations, I saw the merit of visually organizing food ideas, clothing ideas, and decorating ideas, and signed up an account.

And then I saw Pinterest’s dark, seedy underbelly.

  1. The vast majority of Pinterest users seem to be functionally illiterate. No, cupcakes are not Men’s Apparel. Neither are women’s engagement rings. Neither are pictures of naked men — technically, they don’t belong under any kind of apparel. Similarly, mascara does not belong under Cars, baby pictures are not a form of Travel, and god damn it, stop posting pictures of naked men and cupcakes everywhere.
  2. Pinterest forces a kindergarten-like atmosphere. You see, being mean or seeming intolerant are bannable offenses on the website.
  3. The site offers no way to moderate or punish users who pay no attention to the site’s organizational structure.

These three factors combine to create a sort of “wild west of kindercare.” You see, there’s kind of an unspoken rule of the Internet: Either your website is an unmoderated wasteland, or a self-moderating civilization, or a heavily-moderated fascist state. Pinterest tries to combine aspects of all three, and, I think, is suffering from a terrible disease from it.

So please, new found place for mascara pictures and also occasionally my well-organized recipes, pick a path and stick with it. Because I’m tired of the little girls running around in my room.

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