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The Pressure to be Pinterest Perfect

on Apr 10, 2014

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Pinterest: it’s a trap! At the surface, Pinterest is a practical way to save your favorite ideas and photos. Don’t be fooled – this is all part of its sneaky little trap. It lulls you into a hypnotic daze of houses with immaculate artwork hung upon stark white walls, freshly baked fruit tartlets, and plain tees that cost half a paycheck’s worth. Soon, your idea of a fun weekend is attempting to bake a layered rainbow cake, and inevitably ending up on a Pinterest fail website. (To the unicorn girls of the world who are able to successfully bake a rainbow cake, I apologize. Also, please overnight me a slice.)

I’ve been occasionally transfixed by the idealistic fantasy of becoming the perfect Pinterest woman, furiously pinning cocktails with starfruit garnishes at every opportunity. (Seriously, starfruit? Where do these girls shop?) I’ve fallen into the trap many times, happily projecting the beautiful life that I want onto inspiration boards rather than enjoying my own life as it is.

 

Don't be fooled! Starfruits are not your friends.

Don’t be fooled! Starfruits are not your friends.

 

My realization of this pitfall I’d unwittingly fallen into came when I watched a TED Talk by Derek Sivers called “Keep Your Goals to Yourself.” The video is only 3 minutes long, but if you’re short on time, his essential point is that once you’ve decided on a goal for yourself, don’t tell anyone. If you tell someone, and they acknowledge your goal, your brain is tricked into a false sense of accomplishment. You’re less likely to do the hard work it takes to achieve that goal if you already achieved that happy accomplished feeling.

 

Sounds crazy, right? Isn’t the first bullet point on all “How to Achieve Your Goals” lists to tell a friend so they can keep you accountable? Doesn’t everyone worth listening to say to make an inspiration board to keep yourself focused on your goals? But think about it. Have you ever felt really productive after simply telling someone what you plan to achieve in a day? I can’t even count all the times I told a friend something like, “I’m going to write a post for the blog today, and then edit photos, and then exercise.” And then a giddy relief washed over me, because look at how darn productive I was gonna be! We all know how this tale ends; before I realized it, 6 PM rolled around and I hadn’t done anything besides binge watch Game of Thrones.

 

Well, I realized that in this analogy, Pinterest was the friend I was telling my goals to. Through each pin, I was telling my dear pal Pinterest my goals of cooking an elaborate meal, of going on wild adventures, of being a productive worker, of learning how to effortlessly stack rings on my fingers… and I felt no need to actually do those things after pinning them. My boards represent a little chunk of Liz’s aspirational life viewable to whoever finds it. To internet strangers, my identity is solely what I project on the internet. Who wants to only live vicariously through the internet, though? (Hint: not me.)

 

I don’t expect myself or anyone else to ban Pinterest from their life, but I want to live my life and truly enjoy it, rather than always fantasizing about one that’s Pinterest Perfect. (Woops, I might have just broken that golden rule about not telling anyone your goals by writing that.)
What do you think? Is Pinterest perfectly harmless, or have you also felt similarly about its effects?

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