I was at a hip, showbiz party in Los Angeles before the holidays, and heard the sentence people hope for when they go to a hip, showbiz party in Los Angeles: “Somethingsomethingsomething is going to change your life.” OK, so I only heard part of the sentence. I wasn’t standing near the showbiz people, because for some reason they don’t spend parties hovering next to the chips, so I had to move closer. But this was why I came, to hear about the next big thing. The influential fad that influential people were into, so that one day I could talk about it and seem to have influence too. I sauntered up to the showbizzers, casually wiping tortilla chip dust off on my pants, and asked in a calm but decidedly fresh manner, “So what’s going to change my life?” They looked at me and said in unison: “Pinterest. Pinterest will change the world as we know it.” Those people, of course, were assholes.
Pinterest, for those of you who never left the chip bowl, is Facebook without the faces. It traffics in pictures, not of one’s self, but of what you find interesting in that moment: perhaps a clever way to arrange bathroom shelves, or an irresistible preparation of asparagus, or, as of this morning, 75,000 pictures of Ryan Gosling. It really is nothing more than that: lots and lots of images, and people are going nuts over it. A few weeks ago, Pinterest became the fastest stand-alone site to reach 10 million visitors in a month. Which confirms one thing and thing only: America will do anything to avoid having to read.
Pinterest is not Pinteresting. It’s not Pinjoyable or Pintillating, and honestly, I have no idea how it’s even Pinpassable as Pintertainment. It’s literally the least amount of information that can be put in front of you and still make you feel like you’re looking at something. You admire a photo, re-post it if you like, and if you’re feeling particularly frisky, clink on it to see if it links to a recipe or design idea. That’s it. Basically, imagine going to a museum that’s been curated by someone’s hip aunt using magazines and Hallmark cards as her only resource, and you’ve been to Pinterest. You don’t have to read anything, write anything, buy anything, or even understand anything. There’s nothing to understand. You just log on and let the pictures wash over as they fly through the air. It’s brilliant in both its simplicity and wildly low estimation of our intellectual demands. Well, judge for yourself. Here’s some recent popular posts, Pinterested?
That’s it. That’s the site. A picture of an empty living room, a baby dressed up like a mermaid, a cheesy aphorism you might find on a teenage girl’s wall, and a bowl of soup somebody made. It’s the first Nora Ephron movie that you have to log into, and yep, you guessed it, there’s a wait list to join.
Of course there’s a line to be a member of Pinterest, and it’s not short. In December, I waited days for access, and recently I’ve been told it takes weeks. All for the joy of being able to experience the Internet without having to process words. I guess it’s not surprising, that what we really want from the web is not more, but less. A chance to zone out at the end of a day, to indulge in something that asks absolutely nothing from you as a participant. In a lot of ways, Pinterest is the equivalent of the 8 p.m. sitcom, except instead of Two and a Half Men, we get two and a half rooms of hardwood flooring. It’s just a different delivery system. What do I do when I want to do nothing at all? Look at babies, of course, dressed up like little baby mermaids.
At least then, there is one good side to this story: the LA showbizzers have no idea what they were talking about. Pinterest isn’t going to change the world at all, it’ll just give us the same old crap in a new medium. So… yippee?