I created a Pinterest account a couple years ago because many of my friends seemed to be obsessed with it. They used it to find style tips, recipes, and some DIY projects. I was mostly drawn to it for the DIY aspect. I like creating things and wanted inspiration for some new, fun projects. I had very high hopes for the website and was nervous it would be too time consuming (my friends said that they would be on the website for hours). From what I had heard it seemed like a more organized version of Tumblr, a blogging site that, at the time, I was using quite frequently.
I quickly became disenchanted with Pinterest. I have 14 boards, which is pretty excessive considering I have pinned less than 50 things. After reading “Pinning Happiness: Affect, Social Media, and Women’s Work” by Julie Ann Wilson and Emily Chivers Yochim I think I have a better understanding of why I never became too invested in Pinterest. The concept of packets and pockets was especially helpful. Basically, “pins are packets that carry the potential to produce and shape pockets” (11). The packets I saw on Pinterest did not open up pockets that provided a positive affective moment. The images I see on Pinterest do not present a wide variety of perspectives. It is very obvious that the target audience and largest demographic on Pinterest is white, middle to upper-class, probably heterosexual, women. Although that description fits me fairly well, I still could not really get into the site like my friends did.
Logging back on to Pinterest after reading Wilson and Yochim’s essay didn’t so much give me a different perspective on the website, but rather articulated how I had originally felt. The first thing I searched for was “hair.” Everything that popped up had hair inspiration and hair styling tips for white women. When I finally found a woman of color, it had the hashtag #naturalhair which is all pictures of African American women. I thought it was interesting how race is divided by hashtags. Then I searched “weddings” which, not surprisingly, only featured heterosexual, white couples. Searching “love” had a similar result. The quotes mostly applied to heterosexual love and specifically marriage. I found one pin that was interesting because of the comment left by the woman who pinned it. The quote is “Any home can be a castle when the King and Queen are in love.” The Pinterest user Jessica Mellet responded with “This castle is missing it’s King at this minute. But the Queen is holding the fort down just as I have done before and will continue to do.” Jessica’s comment is similar to a single mother’s response to a pin titled “5 Lessons from Great-Playing Dads” (21). In both cases “Pinterest’s happy packets only open, exacerbate, and intensify pockets already rife with the stress and anxiety” of not having the same ideology of the pin.
Pinterest is a good resource for many reasons to share ideas and interests but provides limited perspectives. Wilson and Yochim also comment on Pinterest as a space available for communicative capitalism where users labor is exploited for commercial interests. I have seen this happen more literally when larger corporations blatantly steal ideas from fashion bloggers and small clothing retailers. While Pinterest is a good place for a business to gather data about potential customers, it is quickly becoming another space they can advertise. Some pins I saw were liked back to their respective producers but some were posted originally by the business itself. This seems to be a trend across social media. The biggest benefit to social media is that its users curate it. I wonder if social media will lose its appeal and cultural power as macro entities become a larger presence.
My board for WGSST
Wilson, Julie A. Yochim, Emily C. Pinning Happiness: Affect, Social Media, and Women’s Work. 2013. Print.