Before I even get started here, I admit I already know that I’m going to lose readers with this one. My guess is that 95% of the males and 93% of the women over the age of 50 will have absolutely no idea what on earth I am talking about.
So let’s go for it anyway. Let’s talk about that 600 pound gorilla in the room, shall we? No, I’m not talking about internet porn (hey, my Mom reads this). I’m not talking about Farmville. I’m not even talking about facebook.
You guessed it. I’m talking about Pinterest.
Since its closed-beta launch in March, 2010, Pinterest has grown at about the same rate Facebook grew in 2007. Time Magazine’s Harry McCracken named Pinterest one of The 50 Best Websites of 2011, and according to Experian Hitwise, as of week ending 1/14, Pinterest has blown past Google+ and MySpace and is knocking at the door of LinkedIn and earns the distinction of being the #7 Social Media Website in the US.
So what IS Pinterest?
Pinterest, currently in an “invitation only open-beta” phase, is described by most as a virtual bulletin board. I liken it to virtual, graphic, newspaper and magazine clippings...you know, those recipes, fashion ideas, make-up info, new product info, car ads, and cleaning tips that you always dog-ear or cut out of magazines and newspapers because you just know it will come in handy one day. If you’re lucky, they make it into a shoebox or notebook or some other half-hearted organizational tool. More often than not, you find it behind the sofa when you get your carpets cleaned three years later.
Imagine you could keep these random pieces of paper forever virtually, arrange them by category onto boards, see the picture to jog your memory, make notes on them if you tried it and liked it and have them all in the palm of your hand, any time, any where.
Now imagine you could see all the things your friends clip, cut, dog-ear and bookmark and benefit from their ideas and all the things they find.
I’ll wait while you imagine it.
Yup, it is that big.
Pinterest (rhymes with interest), has been described as the shift from "search to discovery" by Semil Shah on techcrunch.com and I’d have to agree. As we as a society move even more toward immediate information and instant gratification, a second becomes a minute and a minute becomes a quarter hour because we literally have a world of information at our fingertips all day, every day. Searching becomes too specific and takes too long.
Discovery, however, is instant. Pinterest feeds this need for discovery by showing pictures (worth a thousand words, you know) and you immediately decide if you want to know more or want to move on. Pinterest also lets you “pin” items, stories (hopefully this blog) from all over the web so you can go back to it at a later date, share it with your friends, or just have a better system of bookmarking what you find on the web. All this is done with pictures so you don’t have to read through the whole article (except this one) or scour through all the ingredients in a recipe to find what you are looking for.
But there is a dark side to Pinterest. Pinterest is the epitome of information overload. I’ve heard more than one friend joke (sort of) that “I’m sure I’ll enjoy those recipes I found on Pinterest, if I could just get off Pinterest long enough to make it!”. Said tongue in cheek, there is a larger-than-grain of truth to that. These “Pinheads” as I affectionately call them, spend hours and hours combing through categorically organized “boards” looking for their next craft, recipe, dress, car, toaster, nail polish, shoe, you name it. I actually heard the words “I should host a ‘Pinterest Party’! All recipes have to come from Pinterest” fall out of my own mouth the other night. I was so ashamed, and I’m not even a pinhead.
Pinterest also fosters an ADD sort of multiple personality disorder amongst users...or just turns everyone into a Gemini. Users have entire boards devoted to reaching weight loss goals with catchy names like “Stop Being Fat” or “My FUTURE IS FIT” with all kinds of Paleo Diet-inspired recipes sayings pinned like “Sweat is FAT CRYING” or “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch”. Invariably that same user also has a board called something like “Food Porn” with recipes for chocolate chip, oreo and brownie layered bars, beer cupcakes or deep fried chicken alfredo and we’re all left wondering which one will win in the battle of the waistline?
Above all, Pinterest is the ultimate people watching tool. You can really learn a lot about your friends and strangers by what they pin or repin to their boards and what they name those boards. I see things on Pinterest and actually feel sorry for the person who came up with some of these ideas because I know, in my heart of hearts, that person has way too much free time on their hands. Someone had to have thought up cutting a wine bottle with string and nail polish remover. Someone had to think up how to make your own coconut milk from coconuts (Uh, coconut milk is about a buck at the store, people) and someone actually looked at a marble and thought “I wonder what would happen if I baked it”.
Meghan can be found on Pinterest as MegInMarietta. Yes, she is a Gemini. Yes, she has a board called “Food Porn”. Yes, she has a board called “Stop Being Fat”. No, this entire blog was not about her.