The Dark Underbelly of Pinterest

I will admit, I am part of the Pinterest culture. I like to pin recipes, things to do with the kids, places I want to go, etc. It’s fun to see what other people pin. But the more that I think about it, the more I see the dark side of it.

My husband (who is completely out of the social media world in all its forms) opened my eyes to my Pinterest problem before my son’s 5th birthday party. For background, for the previous few years I did “Pinterest worthy” parties, complete with a theme, DIY decorations and games. It took a lot of time and effort on my part. I mean, seriously, who but me cared that every food I offered for a one year old’s birthday party was spherical to match the ball theme. No one.

Yet, as we started planning for the big 5 year old party, I was trying to figure out how to tie together or choose which of his main three interests (hockey, Legos, or video games) to base his party around when my husband said something that shook me. “Why do you need a theme?”

Well, obviously, to plan the decorations and games and figure out what pins to save to plan for it. Men, right?

I told him as much, and he said, “Why don’t we just let the kids play hockey, play Legos and play some Nintendo 64? No theme, no decorations needed.”

I wanted to protest. But he had a solid point. The kids would have fun. My son would have fun sharing his interests with others. I would have significantly less to do. So I went for it.

And you know what? As much as I hate to admit it, it was great! All the kids had a blast, and I almost didn’t know what to do with myself because I had so much LESS to do to prepare and manage the party. Pinterest parties told me I needed to make it this big thing, but it really didn’t need to be.

Another dark side of Pinterest came during cookie decorating this year. My child’s friend was about to start decorating however he wanted, when his mom asked if he wanted to see Pinterest examples of how to decorate.

Getting ideas is great, I do it myself, but how often have we seen Pinterest fails, as kids and adults try to match what they see and fall far short. Why do we put this pressure on ourselves and our kids? Why does everything we do need to be as pretty as a picture? When I was a kid I decorated cookies with abandon, and they more often than not looked like a mess more than a work of art, but I loved them- because I wasn’t trying to make them look like anything.

We, as a culture, spend far too much time comparing ourselves to others on social media, be it Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram. We demean ourselves because there is always someone better, prettier, more well dressed, or more artistic out there. And now, we see those people, and we try to match them, instead of feeling good about what we are able to accomplish on our own.

Personally, I’ll keep going to Pinterest to find things to make for dinner or fun activities to do with my kids, but for most of the things I see, I will treat them like I would art at a museum.

I will admire the works of others in their parties, DIY masterpieces and other amazing feats that I see… and then I will not say how can I make that… but walk away appreciating another’s talents.

In 2019 I am trying to live a more mindful life, and part of that is letting go of things that I don’t need in my mental life, and for me, that includes much of Pinterest.

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I am a teacher, with two kids, recently diagnosed with Lupus, and possibly other auto-immune conditions, living life to the fullest, while managing symptoms.

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