Pinterest Is the New Vibrator

The target market for the 21st-century cult of domesticity may include everyone from Brooklyn makers to Salt Lake City sister wives, but, up until recently, I never thought it would include me. All of my cooking involved a George Foreman grill, and I honestly didn’t understand what one would possibly do with a whisk or, for that matter, an iron. When I heard about some efficiency-obsessed San Francisco programmer who invented a food(ish) product that could provide all of your daily calories and nutrients, I immediately checked the price. (It’s $65 a week in case you’re interested.) So I wasn’t a domestic goddess or even a domestic cleric. I was more like the stock photo of a single girl used in every article about America’s declining birth rate. But then I embarked on a search for an oatmeal-colored sofa, and everything changed.

It all started when I happened upon a listing for a reasonably priced studio in Brooklyn Heights. Within a week, I was writing a ridiculously large check to some stranger’s lawyer, signing and dating far too many documents written in 6-point font, and gathering everything short of a urine sample for a co-op board. While I was certainly surprised to suddenly find myself in possession of a mortgage, I was even more surprised to suddenly find myself in possession of a Pinterest board.

Although I had always defended this perkiest of social media outlets against sexist bros who labeled it the land of forgotten wedding planners, I’d never really understood the fascination. Collecting pretty pictures of scarves is nice and all, but wouldn’t my online time be better spent reading one more article about fracking? Oh, how naïve I was in my smug Pinterest-free existence. I had no idea.

Etsy turned out to be a gateway drug. I needed that sofa and perhaps a coffee table and then maybe a table runner with chevrons, so I thought I’d see what those mostly female merchants had to offer. Table runners offered opportunities to look at cloth napkins which then led to bespoke bath towels. And before I could punch myself in the face for typing “bespoke bath towels,” I was directed to Pinterest where I could not just dip my toe into the pinker corners of the Internet but fully immerse myself in décor, design, reclaimed metal tables, and overpriced flatware. It was like stumbling upon Eden.

Before I knew it, I was putting half-finished articles aside and ignoring deadlines so that I could spend just a few more minutes checking out shower curtains. Over this past holiday break, I would often excuse myself from the family dinner table and secretly sneak off into my old childhood bedroom. I’d try to make as little noise as possible as I plugged in my computer, feeling an odd mixture of guilt and excitement as I began pinning.

After searching through endless photos of space-saving studio layouts and Sputnik chandeliers, I began to wonder why it had taken me so long to join this friendly, oh-so-pretty cult. It’s a cult that asks only one thing: I must continue pretending that I’ll one day be able to afford Piet Hein Eek coffee tables and Linda Adelman light fixtures. That’s it. I’m never asked to produce actual money, and I don’t have to wear any type of odd tunic. As far as cults go, this is way above Branch Davidian.

After a few manic pinning binges, I finally settled into a more manageable routine. Like many before me, I learned that pinning in moderation will save you from waking up at 6 AM with yesterday’s mascara caked under your eyes and 56 different owl postcards pinned to your board like some form of eccentric digital taxidermy. So I’ve set a few limits, and I’m no longer missing deadlines. But design porn remains one of my favorite pastimes, and as I’ve actually begun furnishing this studio, it’s even turned out to be rather useful. Granted, the use doesn’t outweigh the time expenditure, but that’s kind of the point of indulgence.

But this is all materialism, you say! It’s consumer culture in another guise! And you’d be right, but, honestly, please sick Reverend Billy and his horde of trust fund socialists on me because I couldn’t care less. Pinterest is pure pleasure. And I’m tired of the puritanical pleasure police labeling everything women enjoy a symptom of cultural excess. I’m a single 31-year-old with multiple jobs whose longest-lasting adult relationship has been with my New Yorker subscription. I mean, maybe I should be spending all of my free time reading about mandatory inclusionary zoning and redistricting. But is that what you’re doing right now? No, it’s not.

Now, I could certainly form a cogent argument about why Pinterest, like Etsy and the thousands of food and lifestyle blogs, are part of a reclamation of traditionally female arts and that the derision cast their way is a symptom of a culture that doesn’t value anything associated with women or gay men. Fashion and design are superficial while baseball is a metaphor for existence! I’m sure I could make a very convincing case. But, again, I really think the Pinterest hate is more about fearing pleasure—and specifically female pleasure. We crazy ladies just can’t control ourselves and are liable to spend all our hardworking husbands’ money on vintage shoes because we just don’t know when to stop. We silly, silly women.

Except just as we’re able to manage our vaginas responsibly, we’re also able to put aside the bespoke bath towels and engage in real life. I mean, most of the time.

Leave a Reply