I’m here to talk about Pinterest and its negative effects on our ability to be creative.
Pinterest has been bothering me for quite some time for the reason I just stated above. I’m about to dive into several reasons why I think this, but know this: I am a user of Pinterest. I have boards and add pins almost daily. I’ve blogged about Pinterest. Pinterest is the #3 traffic driver to my site, as it is for many, many other bloggers. (For you non-bloggers reading this, Pinterest is a traffic gold mine for us bloggers.)
What’s the problem with Pinterest and creativity, you ask? Here are my reasons.
Reason #1: Pinterest is not a source of inspiration. It’s a collection of completed ideas.
I’ve heard so many people say they use Pinterest as a source of inspiration. I’ve done this as well. Inspiration, of course, is a key pillar of creativity. The word, “pinspiration” is becoming common vernacular. Inspiration is defined as, “being aroused with a spirit to do something, by or as if by divine or supernatural influence.” Inspiration is noticing a cool pattern on the napkin while dining at your favorite restaurant. Inspiration is the “ah-ha!” when you discover how much you love the dark tree branches against your neighbor’s white fence. Inspiration is eating the cilantro rice at Chipotle and realizing how good that might taste as a frozen popsicle. It’s a divine intervention. It’s a collapsing of two ideas into one that suddenly makes a whole lot of sense.
Inspiration is NOT searching Pinterest. Pinterest is a collection of finished projects well past the point of inspiration. Let’s think about gourmet chefs for a second. When a chef wants inspiration for a new recipe, does the chef look at a cookbook full of completed recipes? Probably not. When we search Pinterest for inspiration, it’s nearly impossible to take the projects we find and make them our own. Instead of using the pin as a source of true inspiration (maybe the color, or the pattern, or the type of photography), we feel the desire to re-create what we’ve just pinned. And then we never get around to actually doing it. And then we feel bad about it. It’s a negative, infinite cycle.
Reason #2: Pinterest is replacing our own personal, unique style.
Pinterest is one big trend machine. Trends have always existed in our lives, but Pinterest brings trends (complete with photos! tutorials!) front and center to our phones and computers every second of every day. We are barraged with trends more so now than ever before. For example, when I search for “wall art” on Pinterest, the same thing comes up over and over again. Gallery walls. Gallery walls are a HUGE trend and have been for awhile. After seeing 100 pins of gallery walls, it can be persuasive to think gallery walls are the way to go. But are they? Are we putting gallery walls up because we like them? Maybe you truly do. But, how much is Pinterest controlling our decision process when it comes to thinking creatively? This is the risk we run when we use Pinterest as a source for ideas. We’re finding trends cleverly disguised as ideas that might not represent who we really are.
Here’s another example. Weddings. Pinterest and weddings are out of control. The top search result of any type of wedding idea on Pinterest has to do with these elements: rustic, lace, book crafts, mason jars, billy buttons, banners, pendants, wood, refinished furniture, birds, folk, trees, etc. I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve seen that are HEAVILY Pinterest influenced. Guests say, “She must love Pinterest!” Don’t we want our weddings guests to say, “This wedding is so THEM.”?
For those of you lamenting that your wedding was before the days of Pinterest, you are LUCKY. You have a wedding that reflected who you truly are. Your wedding was unique, original and just for you. That is something to protect and be proud of. Don’t sell your wedding soul to Pinterest.
Reason #3: Pinterest gets credit even for truly original ideas.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this next scenario happen. Someone brings something really neat to a party (most recently it was alcoholic Little Hugs) and the first response is, “So neat! Did you find that on Pinterest?” Nope. This person thought it up with their very own, creative brain. No Pinterest needed. But even so, Pinterest gets credit for ideas made outside of the vacuum that is Pinterest, because that’s the expectation these days. If it’s creative, it must be from Pinterest, right? I’m using sarcasm there. It’s frustrating.
Reason #4: Pinterest promotes a copy-cat culture.
I’ve mentioned this a few times already in regards to trends, but let me put a fine point on it here. Pinterest promotes recycling of ideas instead of coming up with new ideas, which hampers our creativity. Pinterest makes it easy for us to avoid using the creative side of our brains. Let’s do another food reference. When ordering from a restaurant, we’re not worried about being creative, so we grab for a menu. We look at what’s available to us and select what we’d like to eat. The table after us does the same thing and has the same selections to choose from. This happens over and over again. This is Pinterest. A menu of choices meant to be copied (eaten) over and over again by folks. But what’s beyond that “menu” that we might be missing?
That’s all I’ve got.
I guess all of this to say, we need to keep true to ourselves – to our taste and personal style. We need to use Pinterest as a way to bookmark what WE love and what WE do, as individuals. Don’t allow Pinterest to control how you decorate a home, plan a party or buy a gift.
I’ll keep pinning, but I’m steering clear of the search bar.
p/s: Also I love this post titled, “Taking Back My Wedding from Pinterest.” Especially the part where Hannah talks about that, in our effort to be original and unique, we’re becoming all the same thanks to Pinterest.