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Tammy Swift, Published November 02 2013

Swift: Pinterest 1 percent perspiration, 99 percent aspiration

It happened on a brisk autumn morning last fall.

I awoke to find myself with a loaded hot glue gun in my hand. My face was covered with mango-flavored fondant. A single pipe cleaner was glued to my forehead. I reached into my pockets. They were filled with glitter. Most disturbingly, my breath reeked of cinnamon potpourri – and shame.

Hours of my life had disappeared. What had I done the night before?

And then I realized it: I had spent the whole night on Pinterest.

Obviously, immediate Pintervention was needed.

Ever since then, I have tried to avoid the highly addictive online, content-sharing pinboard. But then I’ll fall off the wagon – and land in this magical universe of empowering slogans, oceanside mansions and dreamy photos of Bradley Cooper. Hours will tick by as I dream of all the potential out there for crafts, fashion, entertainment and make-your-own toilet cleaners.

But I sometimes wonder if it’s a healthy fixation. Why am I spending all this time pinning chicken Parmesan recipes, then gobbling Triscuits over the sink? And in the time it has taken me to “pin” all the pithy sayings by Oscar Wilde, couldn’t I have actually read his complete works?

It’s also been said that Pinterest is the equivalent to online hoarding. I have to agree. Who cares if I will never build a coat rack that looks like a cherry blossom tree? So what if I don’t ever plan to decorate a cake to look like a giant Snickers Bar? Who should care that I just pinned instructions on how to crochet a giant carrot costume for a baby – simply because I have never crocheted nor had a baby?

The point is this: I MIGHT someday want to learn or try these things. And so I’ll just obsessively pin and store them on my iPhone, next to my unread e-books on “How to Train for a 100-Mile Ultra-Marathon,” and “Stop Procrastination Now!”

Besides, that seems to be the real point of Pinterest. It represents the life you would want to have, if you had unlimited time and an insatiable desire to turn colossal black olives into appetizers that look like tiny penguins.

Oh sure, I realize some people out there actually TRY stuff from Pinterest. I am sure there’s a core group of super achievers out there who faithfully make their own yogurt cheese, create all their own wall art and knit adorable snowmobile suits for their children. They are likely the same dynamic do-it-yourselfers who maintain a daily blog that documents the elaborate craft projects and homemade meals they make every day.

Heck, as much as I grumble, even I have been known to try a few things on Pinterest. But I tend to be drawn to recipes labeled, “Takes only three ingredients!,” or crafts that say: “Something for the kids to try!” (Maybe there should be a site called Lazyrest or Underachieverest.)

To me, Pinterest is more like watching a Martha Stewart special.

It’s 1-percent perspiration, 99-percent aspirational.


Tammy Swift writes a lifestyle column every Sunday in Variety. Readers can reach her at tswiftsletten@gmail.com