Last week, in my heap of summer boredom, I signed up for Pinterest. Back in 2010, when Pinterest was just beginning, I was in the trial run for the site. While I found it interesting, I did not have the time to allow the procrastinatory site to rule my life and I promptly took a two year hiatus which ended last week. For those of you who live in literary circles, or under a rock, Pinterest is the Justin Bieber (the Jesmyn Ward?) of social networking sites. Pinterest has skyrocketed into popularity via its easy interface and its infinity of pictures, crafts, and ideas. The basic idea is that you ‘pin’ things that ‘interest’ you onto boards which you can then share with your friends.
When entering the site, the interface looks like something a 13-17 year old girl would use. Covered in bright colors and craft ideas, Pinterest looks like a early high-schooler’s dream. My Pinterest, much like my Facebook, lacks these juvenille enjoyments. Instead, my Pinterest is filled with postings from my Facebook friends in three major categories: weddings, babies, and homemaking. Sure, there are women like Michelle Obama who are posting great pictures of the white house, but for the most part my white, upper-middle class, female friends, are all posting about a wedding they do not have a ring for.
I am not trying to discredit weddings, or the excitement that should accompany that kind of commitment. The reality is, though, that not very many–31.8%–of Pinterest users are men. My Pinterest, it feels, is trying to socialize me into a kind of gender normative expectation of women my age. In the most anti-independent sense, my Pinterest is telling me to get married, build a nest, and fill it with tiny birds which I can make clothing for with all the great crafting skills I learned off Pinterest. Now before anyone pulls out a semi-automatic let’s remember 1) this is a blog post 2) there is NOTHING wrong with desiring any of those things. I am sure that getting married, and building a home, and having kids are all nice and beautiful things.
But I cannot say for sure because, like all of my pinning friends, I have not done any of those things.
My freshman year of college I wrote a research paper on prostitution in the United States. I did a lot of reading about pornography, usage in the United States, and long-term effects on sex drives and contentment in relationships. The data is unsurprising. People who are addicted to pornography (addicted being defined as usage every day for thirty or more days) have more trouble being satisfied with actual sex and therefore often struggle to be content in their relationships. Pinterest is a haven of wedding pornography. Girls are pinning dresses, decorations, and rings. They are pinning proposals, tuxes, and honeymoons. They are planning a day which is supposed to be the unification of two people all alone. All of this premature excitement can only lead to dissatisfaction: dissatisfaction with a current state as well as dissatisfaction with the future outcome.
More than Pinterest usage dampening wedding days, births, and first homes alike, I cannot help but feel extereme alignment with Elizabeth Wurtzel. The women on my Pinterest are obsessed with, not where they are, but with where they hope a man can make them. It saddens me that so many of my friends have two wedding boards and no hint of a career desire. It saddens me that weddings have become the pinacle of life. There is an obsession not with a great guy, or the right guy, but with a guy. There is an obsession not with marriage, but with weddings. Plenty of strong, independent, smart, and capable women have and will meet the guy, plan a wedding, and marry him. There is beauty in that.
But in this preemptive dreaming and delusion, I see nothing but a world of dissatisfaction.