Pinterest: The Sticking-Pins-in-the-Internet Social Network You Never Knew You Needed So Badly

I don’t think I get Pinterest. The Internet tries to explain the point of the Most Important Website in the World, sometimes resorting to video and slideshows, but more often it just suggests, as USA Today did, that you “find the nearest twenty- or thirtysomething woman. She’ll likely know what’s up and can tell you about it. IF SHE CAN STOP PINNING” — emphasis mine, because I look forward to seeing Jeff van Vonderen handle that intervention. I see what Pinterest does. I just pinned, like five minutes ago. I know that I am supposed to feel something, but I don’t, and am left suspended in the moment when the world cruelly proved that there was no such creature as the gangster Nancy Sinatra.

There is a surprising amount of material on the Pinterest addiction epidemic: “[it] is sucking people in and turning them into pinning fools,” says Digital Mom Blog, which points to warning signs such as “Your husband now asks after you make something fabulous for dinner or dessert — did you find this on Pinterest? … It’s better than what is Pinterest again?” Another fiend joneses for pins because it’s “actionable” with regard to wedge boots. The fact that it’s invite-only seems to make people hungry for more pins. How to get a Pinterest invite? Put yourself out there, but be cautious, man. Wait under the streetlamp and look for a guy with a trench coat who touches his nose with his middle finger two times, then cough to signal. Pretty soon, you’ll be blissed out and staring at a collage you made of pixels, and you can pretend you live in there, between the coat rack and the Hartmann briefcase, just under Dolly Parton. You can touch your own aesthetics.

Some people resemble pin boards of themselves, holding so fast to a homogenized font and frame or ukulele-optional personal style that you can mentally vacation in their personalities. It becomes easier to glean a kind of instant emotional reaction to the sum of their hyper-Etsy bird hats, Kinks affinity, and what you suppose they wear when they buy macarons. If you were told that they had never bought macarons, you would know that you were talking to a liar. Pinterest seems to reaffirm our investment in the superficial, and in what we still hope we’ll find in that beautiful heap to satisfy us in a dirty and disorganized world. Bon Iver is a pin board, and not a pin board I dislike, because plaid is fine and I’ve been in the dark winter woods of the soul. Survivor contestant Ozzy was a pin board, until you found out he was in a porno and he sprang to life like a sexy dolphin-swimming rickroll. Surprises tend to pervert the point of a collection, leaving you unsure of how to feel, like a man without a brand.

The difference between collecting and hoarding largely revolves around how well-organized the bounty is, the aesthetic impact of the collection, and whether or not there are potato chips lost inside. Collecting images and bothering to sort them into little groups, like with like, gives the impression that everything can be found again, not lost in the big sofa of the bookmarks bar, but displayed. But what are we planning to make out of these scraps? Wreaths? The space in our lives, apartments, and brains has become insufficient to hold the information we feel we’ll eventually use, and instead of dumping it all on the floor like we used to, we’re hanging it up and arranging it by season, color, and cut. But what’s the point? Maybe I should ask a twenty- or thirtysomething woman, but chances are she’s too busy shooting up pictures of fruit juice ice cubes and ballet flats to answer any existential questions.