The Trouble With Pinterest

Here's the thing: I really like Pinterest. I'm not opposed to social platforms in general like some, nor do I think all the time we spend on them is necessarily "wasted." Since I am at working from the office 75% of my week, I don't get many opportunities to see or catch up with other moms / friends. There are no play dates or shared Target trips in the middle of the day for me. All I have is the meager ability to see your day and let you know I'm thinking about you. And believe me, I appreciate that! But this desire + its fulfillment can be dangerous. I think I've already covered the hazardous "comparison" nature of Facebook previously, so I won't spend any time on it again here. No, lately it's Pinterest that's been weighing on my mind.

In our home group, the girls are reading an amazing book by Elyse Fitzpatrick called "Helper by design." In it, Elsye describes the "quite spirit" referred to in 1 Peter 3 as a peacefulness of the soul rather than muted volume or reserved talkativeness. That hit me pretty hard. Here I was, sitting in Starbucks with an iPad, iPhone, book, and moleskin in front of me. Distractions were literally ubiquitous. "How can I have a calm soul?!" I mentally shrieked (yes, I'm loud even in my mental conversations. The irony isn't lost in me, I promise).

"Come on, Elsye," I thought, "It's not enough that I'm working non-stop all day from home, to the boys's school, to work, to home, to laundry, to baths / bedtime... HOW the Chewbacca am I supposed to do ALL OF THAT PEACEFULLY?"

...

And then I saw all of the distractions that I take with me everywhere. I'm always on my phone emailing, texting, facebooking, instagraming, and pinning away. I'm literally connected nearly every waking hour of the day. A big part of this is my job, granted, but it's not the only culprit. So many evenings I find myself drooling from exhaustion, pinning away on Pinterest. I like to think of this as "screensaver" Jenny: it's the times when I just don't want to think but am not ready to go to sleep. You might want to think of this as "wasting-her-time-but-still-not-sleeping" Jenny, and that would probably be closer to the truth.

And in all of this pinning, I've noticed some things: 1: The ratio of things we pin to things we actually do / use / refer to later is depressingly lopsided. Almost no one actually USES what the pin for a practical purpose.

2: If pins were physical objects, 90% of the female population would qualify for the show Hoarders. I myself have a board called "yum" dedicated to recipes I will never, ever, ever make. I can't even make a Kroger box cake, what makes me think I would EVER be able to make a fine Chicken dinner? And my DIY board? Don't ask me when I'm going to get around to doing all of those crafty-crafts, because I promise you that I won't. And I can't begin to tell you how many "My Perfect Wedding" boards I've seen curated by married women.

This isn't to say that enjoying wedding design is bad or that we shouldn't want to remember things that inspire us. I'm not even saying Pinterest can't be used for good things (I've found 3 great books, done 2 projects, and used multiple boards as a standing resource for graphic / video design). It's just an unfortunate side-effect that Pinterest = digital-hoarding and effectively sows seeds of discontentment and soul clutter.

In seeking simpler, better organized, less cluttered, and more chicly designed lives, we become cyber-gluttons. We're sluggish, obese from mounds upon mounds of visual ideas, projects, and newly sprouted desires. We rationalize our bingeing by saying "but I'm not ACTUALLY buying this Tiffany's ring or throwing a $3,000 dinner party! I'm not purchasing any of these things, just looking at them." But even as we say this, there's a part of us cataloguing our ever-increasing dissatisfaction with real life.

It's the Martha Stewart effect, showing me again and again that I would feel fulfilled if I could just make my son a birthday invitation with homemade paper, hand-stitched binding, and calligraphed envelopes.

When realty doesn't look that beautiful as the photos in her dumb magazines I feel slightly defeated. Or maybe I don't even attempt her Herculean DIY projects, but simply allow the seeds of unrealistic, even ungodly, expectations of what my life "should" look like to germinate within me.

Contentment can't be obtained when I'm lusting after things that I don’t, can’t, or shouldn't have.

Because here's the gritty truth:

You will never have a cliff-side, Grecian, summer soirée with extravagant decorations and exquisite food.

Your wedding won't ever be bejeweled with 2 carat Tiffany's, Vera Wang, and exotic blooms from Northern France.

You will never be able to afford a wardrobe like your dream closet.

And you will never have a house that looks like something straight out of Elle Decor.

... And that's a wonderful example of God's grace! These things are distractions not satisfiers of the soul. The healthy Christian does not hoard her life, planning every detail until it's "perfect." No, she lets that role belong to Christ, the best curator and designer of the heart there is. Because he looks at the inside and not the outward apparent, his "pins" or plans for me aren't going to be vintage-chic. Instead, they'll probably be pretty messy, awkwardly slapped together and slightly crooked, so that in everything I might not be distracted by this life, but would remember how perfect and valuable HE IS.

Since he is so worthy of my thoughts and my heart, why would I sacrifice time with him to pinning things I will never do, places I will never go, and things that are just kind of cool. Doing this once in a while with a heart of careful moderation is probably fine. Consistently though? Surely not.

Here's my closing thoughts:

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (2 Peter 3:14 ESV)

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)

God help us grow more like that! God help me the most!

Jenny Smith

3705 Oceanview Drive, Denton, TX, 76208