One writer fell hard for a world of pretty pictures and life-envy - until she realized it was time for a reality check. By Julie Tilsner, REDBOOK.
It begins as love affairs typically do. You're introduced innocently, through a friend. You're not even interested because you're not looking for more social media and besides, why pin pictures of things on the Internet?
One night when the kids are down, and the hubs is out with his boys, you pour a glass of wine and decide to check this Pinterest thing out. What's all the buzz about?
You create an account and are immediately accosted by a tidal wave of images. Suddenly, you spy the cutest pair of red pumps. And then a living room painted a color that makes you gasp out loud. And that bedroom, with those windows! And apricot rice pudding popsicles, really?
You invite your friends to "follow" you, and are delighted when they all quickly respond by "re-pinning" your first tentative pins. It's like girl's night out right here in front of your laptop!
When your husband comes home at 11, you're still staring at the computer. You haven't even refilled your wine glass.
When the sheer awe of Pinterest subsides and you are able to collect your jaw off the floor, you start to marvel at the functionality of the platform. What a great tool for organizing your projects, your dreams, your style sense!
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You start creating boards. One for the kitchen of your dreams. Another for DIY projects that you think are cool, even if you are hopeless with them. They are so clearly spelled out, linking right to a blog in many cases, that you're sure even you can do them.
And here are all the amazing places you want to travel one day. Salzburg! Machu Pichu! And then there are all these cool things you can do with your teen daughter's room…
And all your friends are re-pinning your stuff like crazy, as well as people you've never met. You always knew you had superior design sense. Validation!
And you thought Facebook was addictive. If Facebook is red wine, Pinterest is crack.
Although you have many other "activities" you could be doing in your "free" hours - paying the bills, making dinner, finishing that freelance article - it's so much easier to just sit and look at pictures.
You show you husband your 17 boards. He comments that it's like creating a visual impression of yourself. Then he shrugs. And walks away to read his Kindle.
It occurs to you that perhaps photos of 500 of the cutest new shoes are your version of porn. Or maybe it's the food. Food porn. Yeah. Show it to mommy, baby.
So you start more boards, boards pinned with pictures of food and recipes that you fully intend to try as early as next week. Salad in jar? Who would have thought? Also boards of food you hope to learn how to make one day. Also boards of food you know is completely beyond you and yet, it's just so beautiful to look at.
Of course you start a "My Style" board, because even though you're a mom of teenagers who hasn't worn silk anything in 17 years, this is the opportunity to show the world - okay, your friends and random followers - that you're not a slave to the capris/t-shirt/Chucks mom-uniform. You have a flare!
It's not like you're not busy already, as a mom and worker and wife and friend.
You've got a completely crazy-full life without ever turning on your computer. And yet Pinterest calls. You can hear it from across the room, beckoning you back for just one more quick romp.
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You know you're in too deep when you have 233 pins on a board called "Dream Wedding. You've been married for 17 years already and aren't actually looking to upgrade.
You didn't top your wedding cake with strawberries decorated to look like a bride and groom. You didn't make printed napkins with clever sayings commemorating the day. You certainly didn't have anyone weave your hair into intricate Celtic love knots. Now you can see where you failed on any one of a hundred boards dedicated to the art of braiding long and mid-length locks. Your hair was swept up into a bun with springs of baby's breath. It seemed sweet at the time.
Your girlfriends ask where you've been. You haven't been hanging at school after drop-off. You're not at Trader Joe's. Your best friend eyeballs you. "You seem kind of distant lately. What's going on?"
"What is this?" your husband asks.
You look at him as calmly as you can. "It's a salad."
"It's in a jar."
He regards you silently. "What's going on with you? You're a salad-in-a-bag gal. And there was a time when you couldn't even handle that."
You shrug. "It's a neat idea, don't you think? The salad, the veggies, the dressing, all layered on top of each other…"
"What's wrong with salad in a bowl?"
You try telling him about the hundreds of boards dedicated to clever ideas with food. He is unimpressed. "Maybe you should give this 'pin' thing a rest," he says finally.
You don't of course. You're in too deep.
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The downward spiral
It takes a while, but one day you look up from the screen and over into your own, painfully lacking kitchen. It's not backlit. It does not feature floor-to-ceiling bookcases, or an oversized clock salvaged from a 19th century French orphanage as a statement piece.
Your backyard doesn't have a creek running through it, much less 100-year-old oak trees that you can string lights throughout.
You haven't made pumpkin soup out of real pumpkins for your family's lunch today.
You're not doing anything, really. You're just pinning about it.
Sewing tutorials. Crocheting baby hoods. Knitting. Lace making. Canning. Preserving. Goat raising. Bee-keeping.
Apparently, women all over the world are doing these marvelous things, and you are not. And you can't organize your life to include raising a couple of goats. Why not? Because you suck.
You really have to wonder how these amazingly crafty, pinning, blogging moms also find the time to homeschool. You can't find the time to go get your tires rotated.
In the end, your family tries to stage an intervention. In particular, the teenage girl, the one who has never known a world without high-speed Internet pulls your laptop away from you. "Mom. Stop. It's not real. Stop."
You look at her, hardly recognizing her. "But, this is making me a better mom."
"You're a fine mom already."
"But, I'm learning how to make you a trundle bed out of wine crates."
"My bed is fine," she says.
"What's wrong with salad on a plate?" asks your 11-year-old son.
"Mom, snap out of it and make us lunch!" cries the girl.
"I've got this recipe for homemade mac and cheese. Look! It uses gruyere!"
"No! Mom, we want the stuff out of the box - like normal!" they both wail.
It takes all you have, but one day you say goodbye to Pinterest. It's not enough to tell yourself you'll cut back to once, maybe twice a day. You know you're weak. You know once you log on it's all over, and when your husband comes home, you'll be pinning bejeweled saris from India worn by Bollywood stars you've never heard of. The only way to do this is to go cold turkey. You delete your account completely.
Then you get up and walk around the block, hoping to clear your head. You wave at neighbors, none of whom mention the fact that you're not wearing a polka-dot maxi skirt or that your hair is in the same old brown bob as always, not a ringlet or feather to be seen. You go about your day, easing your way back into real life.
Each week without Pinterest is a little easier. Your house starts to look less frumpy, its lack of a dacha in the backyard easier to accept.
You do keep your cache of mason jars however. The salad in a jar thing was a little over the top, but you remember there was a trick with different colored beans you wanted to try. You're sure one of your crafty mom friends can help.
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