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Quitting social media is a thing these days. Several of my friends have recently taken “breaks” from Facebook (breaks? Really? From Facebook? The place where I connect with all my friends and family and get 99% of my adult interaction? Why?). They said something about wanting to pay attention to their children, connect with friends in real life, and stop looking at their phones every three minutes. Whatever. I’m not going to judge. It works for them.

But I’m here to tell you: if you want to quit social media, don’t worry about Facebook. Facebook helps you make friends. Twitter  and Instagram are not a problem. Pinterest is what you need to quit.

You think it’s a fun, relaxing way to spend some down time. You look at pretty pictures! And save them! It’s sort of like decorating, but for free, and without any paint fumes or drywall dust. What’s not to like?

At first, you’d be right. But stick around for long, and soon, Pinterest will show its dark side. What starts out as a relaxing afternoon will quickly spiral into a vortex of stress, guilt, and self-induced madness. Here’s why.

1. You start believing that pins are a reflection of reality.

One minute, you’re just scrolling through other people’s pins, admiring their taste in mirror frames. The next minute, you’re picturing their houses and lives and children as if they look just like their Pinterest boards. You start imagine them, not just pinning these pictures, but taking pictures of their house right this minute and posting it on their board.

Then you look around your house and wonder what’s wrong with you.

2. You create a never-ending list of things you want to do someday.

Isn’t that the whole point of Pinterest? It’s just one great big to-do list. Not a list of what’s urgent or important or necessary. Just a list of stuff that would be fun to do someday. If you ever got around to it. Is that really what you need in your life? More stuff to do?

I didn’t think so.

3. Pinning will become a substitute for doing.

Before you know it you have hundreds, even thousands, of pictures of things you could do with your kids. Things you will never actually do, but you will sort of feel like you did, because you pinned them. And as much fun as it may be to imagine all the things you could do someday, trust me: you will never actually make butterflies from homemade play-doh that really look like butterflies. And if you try to get your kids to make these, it will end in a meltdown, because the average toddler is not capable of shaping wet flour into something that looks like a butterfly. You will all have much more fun if you just go outside and play in the mud. 

4. You start planning your activities and events in an effort to be pin-worthy. 

Look, it’s great if you want to throw your toddler a train party. He will love that. Give him toy trains and say choo-choo all day long. But you don’t need to make him a train cake. He will not care if the cake looks like a train. He won’t even be impressed. He would just as happy with a cake that looks nothing like a train. It will taste every bit as good. Why waste your time and effort trying to impress your friends when the people who matter the most — your kids — really, truly don’t care and probably won’t even remember?

(And if you are actually capable of making a cake that truly looks like a train, then you are already Supermom. Stop reading this blog, you don’t need to be here.)

5. You don’t actually connect with people on Pinterest. 

Pinterest is different from other social media, because the people you actually care about in real life are not necessarily the people you want to follow on Pinterest. Unless you happen to be in a knitting group together, there’s no reason for you to follow your friends so you can see all the sweaters they plan to knit. And much as you may like the inspiration you get from your friend’s pins for the Dr. Suess-themed party she’s planning for her one year old, you can’t really use those pins unless you plan to steal her idea and throw a party with the same theme for your one year old. So instead, you follow people you don’t know. And I haven’t heard of many people becoming friends through Pinterest — something that happens frequently on Facebook and Twitter. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to conversation, a 140-character tweet will build a friendship faster than a hundred pinned pictures.

So I’m sorry if you love Pinterest. And if pinning make you happy, then don’t stop. Enjoy. But when you start thinking you need a break from social media, don’t put all the blame on Facebook. Pretty pictures are more dangerous than you know.

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14 Comments

Thea WallaceJanuary 30, 2014 4:44 pm

Reason #6: I just clicked on the butterfly link. My daughter says, “Is that play dough? Do you think we could make that out of play dough one day?” Your children will look over your shoulder and get totally unrealistic ideas about what their mothers should be willing to do with them. (Actually, I’ve never signed up for pinterest. I’m too prone to all of those problems without it.)

Lisa BakerJanuary 30, 2014 4:50 pm

YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?

Lisa BakerJanuary 30, 2014 4:51 pm

This is why you shouldn’t read blogs when your children are nearby.

ginna bakerJanuary 30, 2014 4:52 pm

I like Pinterest! But I don’t use it too often. I might quit facebook, though. :)

Thea WallaceJanuary 30, 2014 4:56 pm

Actually, I have a related problem with Etsy. Although I do think it is great to support local, small, etc., it kind of puts a damper on creativity. Every time I have a great idea for something to make it turns out that someone else makes it better and sells it on Etsy, often for not much more than it would cost me to get the materials.

Lisa BakerJanuary 30, 2014 5:27 pm

there you go, Thea Wallace! You are 200% right. It’s totally true. I have no problem with this because I suck at crafts, I recognize this about myself. But I should write a post about Etsy.

No, nevermind, there’s no way in the world I would ever quit Etsy.

Sheila Roberts AldridgeJanuary 30, 2014 5:35 pm

The only time I’ve taken a break from FB was during a time when I felt more sensitive for some reason and people were posting disturbing things and stories that I wasn’t able to properly filter, but I hopped back on because I missed the connection with my friends! I like FB, too. Your post was so funny–and very true! Though I don’t use Pinterest often, I fell into the hole a few times–ha. And I’m with you. A plain old homemade round cake, box cake, Publix cake, will taste just as good as a train one, for all of us who aren’t artists in the kitchen! During these last few snow days my camera on the phonehas been not working and though I’d like a few photos of my boy in the snow in the new house, it’s not killing me not to have them. I have snow pictures when he was younger, this isn’t the first time he’s experienced it. But I need to keep my eyes on him hurdling down the hill on a makeshift sled, instead–ha!

Alicia AndersonJanuary 30, 2014 5:39 pm

I got sucked in during wedding planning, and had to institute a rule that I had to do something for the wedding for every pin I posted. Now I use it as a bookmarking tool, and I barely ever browse.

Wendy Widhelm TedderJanuary 30, 2014 9:53 pm

But keep Pandora, of course!

Samantha Renee BilodeauJanuary 31, 2014 2:03 am

Samantha Renee Bilodeau liked this on Facebook.

Nicolette Roux @ Powerful MotheringJanuary 31, 2014 6:39 am

I guess you did not read the post.

You do know that the whole point of making the butterfly was to discuss the life cycle of a caterpillar to butterfly while also using the book “the very hungry caterpillar” to teach?

I took a medium which my kids loved (playdough) and a book they are fascinated by and turned it into a teaching opportunity. They enjoyed it.

FYI – My kids also frequently play in the mud too.

lcbaker February 08 2014 11:34 am

Nicolette, thanks for commenting! I hope you didn't take this as a criticism of your post -- I didn't mean it that way AT ALL. Your butterfly is amazing. Your lesson was amazing. It was much, much better than anything I would ever manage to do with my kids, is all. And if I tried mine would not be as pretty.

Bonnie NichollsFebruary 6, 2014 11:13 am

People are quitting social media? I thought I was the only one. Actually, what I’ve done is I don’t check Facebook as much. I took a break from social media duing a long vacation and I realized I didn’t miss the constant updates. Now, I rarely go to Facebook, which has its own warped sense of reality, because it seems we all put our best selves out there, not necessarily our true selves. Now I focus mostly on LinkedIn and a smattering of Twitter.

ErinMarch 25, 2014 6:37 pm

Lisa, I nodded energetically the entire time I was reading this! I dabbled in Pinterest for, like, a week before I realised that – as you say – what I was doing was making a huge, never-ending to do list. I stopped and haven’t bothered to go back…because I know that for me, personally, it wouldn’t make me feel better about my house or cake-making skills!

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