Are you on Pinterest? No? Really? Then let me explain: it’s a site for saving (“pinning”) pictures from all over the internet and sharing them with your friends. People pin recipes, craft ideas, diet tips, pictures of their dream home, things like that. When you visit the site, you’re not seeing your friends’ actual houses or dinners or vacations. You’re seeing all the stuff your friends wish they had and did. If Facebook is where you present the best version of yourself, Pinterest is where you present the person you’d be if reality didn’t get in the way.
Some days the fantasy is great. I can ignore my dirty kitchen and scroll through page after page of beautiful houses, adorable craft projects, and picture perfect dinners. I have a board I call “crafts I would never get around to” where I pin all sorts of cute things I like to pretend I’ll create some day.
Some days the fantasy is awful. Some days I’m haunted by the idea that somebody out there actually does these things. Some days it seems like Pinterest exists to show me everything wrong with my life. My dinners aren’t fancy enough, my store-bought valentines are borderline negligent, and my house is far too small and cluttered. I haven’t seen the wonders of the world*, I know nothing about fashion, I don’t work out nearly hard enough, and my cake decorating skills are laughable.
For me, the pull of Pinterest is simple. As a SAHM, it’s really hard to tell how good a job I’m doing. Being my own boss means no one’s patting me on the back (or giving me a raise) for changing the sheets once a week or teaching my kids to read. Most of what I do is invisible. But sending out adorable hand-made invitations to a brilliantly themed birthday party? Everyone can see that. I could put that on Pinterest. My party could become the stuff of someone else’s domestic dreams.
Or nightmares. Like I said, it cuts both ways. The kind of domestic dreams Pinterest deals in can really validate the time you put into that Halloween costume or shrimp risotto, but they can also make you feel like shit for not putting your time into these visible projects. I’ve never seen a Pinterest board celebrating the triumph of keeping the house together while fighting the flu or getting dinner on the table after a long day at work. I’d love to, though. Much as I love the fantasy, some days I’d rather see a celebration of reality.
To that end, I’ve tried to broaden my Pinterest horizons. I’ve started following geek boards and pinning pictures of ball pythons and mehndi. (I didn’t pick those at random–I like looking at both of those, I promise.) I still save pictures of things I want to knit or cook, and sometimes I actually knit or cook those things, but I don’t want to stop there. After all, if Pinterest is a fantasy, I want it to be the most colorful fantasy I can create.
But maybe I should do more to subvert the fantasy. Maybe I should fill Pinterest with glamour shots of my weedy lawn and unmade bed. Maybe I should be pinning my local pizza palace or showing just how half-assed most of my craft projects are.
Or maybe I should abandon it altogether. I hear Amazon has a universal wish list that lets you save ideas without all airbrushed nonsense Pinterest makes you deal with. Who needs craft projects, anyway? I know some excellent parents with not one whit of crafting talent. Of course, those people find it oh so hard to prove their parenting skills in the face of Pinterest’s four-course dinners and hand-made St. Patrick’s Day gifts . . .
Featured Image Jan van Kessel (public domain image) via vintageprintables.com