Tech Devil: The Problems with Pinterest

If there were one site that represented our society at the current moment it would have to be Pinterest. Pinterest is a site where you "pin" images to a "board" and that's it. You can search for images of people, places and things, and “repin” them to your profile if you like them. There really is nothing else. You can comment on each pin, but it's not the main purpose. Some interesting facts include: It was one of the first sites to reach 10 million unique monthly visitors and its user base is almost 70% female. So far, pretty simple.

Before I start bashing this site, I would like to bring up the fact that it does have some usefulness in specific situations. The main one that comes to mind is for designers. Designers of any kind can create a board for a project they’re working on and pin inspirational photos and artwork that they can share with other people working on the same project. I can imagine architects, interior designers, graphic designers and fashion designers all making great use of this. Maybe families can pin images of the places they're going on a trip, but that kind of defeats the purpose of going and taking your own pictures. But for the most part, I think designers would be able to make great use of this site.

Now for the major downsides: Most people don't use it that usefully. From what I've seen it's been just pinning photos of things that they like and want. It's the epitome of consumerism. Apparently there is popularity among the female users to create boards of wedding stuff like gowns, place settings and anything wedding related. Ignore the fact that some of these users don't have boyfriends and are years from getting married. "It's fun, though." Yes, it's fun to tell yourself that your life and what you have isn't enough. That's the main thing I take away from this site. It's saying, “Look at all the stuff you don't have because your life isn't perfect.” It's pretty sad, really. People are wasting time by looking at and pinning images of things they'll probably never own instead of actually doing something enjoyable like spending time with loved ones or doing something productive.

I don't mean to sound like a grouch, but our consumerist lifestyle is not healthy and not sustainable. Stuff doesn't make us happy; people and experiences do. I mean, yeah, it's cool to dream about having a nice car and all that pretty stuff, but it won't matter if you don't have the money to waste and Pinterest is not the thing that will help you get there.

The other problem that Pinterest has to deal with, apart from the fact that they have to figure out how to make money, is copyright infringement. Many people pin images without giving credit to the original owner, so sites like Flickr are blocking users from pinning any copyrighted photo on Pinterest. Other sites are now joining the ranks as well. So it's not just the mindless promotion of consumerism but also the fact that Pinterest could be allowing illegal activity on their site. Ironically, they'll probably start putting ads on the site.

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