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.