I read an interesting article today about the popularity of the website Pinterest. Now, if you’ve never heard of it, let me give you a quick overview. If you join Pinterest, you create groups of images called boards, a digital version of corkboards and pushpins. You can save images from all over the internet onto your boards. You organize the boards by name and category. For instance, I have a board called Garden and Yard which, surprise surprise, is filled with links to interesting articles on gardening.
Pinterest is a social media, though. Other people can follow my boards, which just means when I post something, it shows up on their feed when they log in to Pinterest. They can take those images and put them on their own boards (called repinning). They can comment on them or ‘like’ them. I can also look at boards from people I don’t follow by looking at the big main feed, by category or all categories, and there I can find new boards to follow or new images to pin.
That’s the background. Now back to the article. It said Pinterest is now several million strong because people are tiring of regular social media. We’re tired of each other, especially the faces we create for Facebook or other social sites. Whereas most social sites say “Look at me,” Pinterest says “Look at this.”
That kind of resonated. I have a love/hate relationship with FB that is turning more and more hateful. I check my FB less often than I used to. I know it will leave me with this empty, not-quite-good-enough feeling in my throat that I don’t like. It’s social, but randomly social, and that’s hard. Let me see if I can explain that.
If I am sitting at lunch with a friend, and I say something, my friend then says something back. (Unless they’re texting, but that’s another rant altogether.) I speak; they speak. Even if I say something rather ordinary or mundane, the other person comments. The other person isn’t sifting through fifty or a hundred or two hundred other people’s comments while talking to me, so they have time to speak to my comment. On FB, I throw an idea out there, and it may or may not garner any attention. Too many of us say things that matter, and they go unheard. Or we create personas that people will notice and respond to, but those personas aren’t really us.
Enter Pinterest. I haven’t a clue who I ‘follow’. It’s not that personal. And yet there’s a we’re-in-this-together feel when we all pin and repin the same things, when we realize we like things others like, we dream of lovely gardens together, we love beach images together, and we all wish we were handier and craftier and healthier. The article I read suggested Pinterest is not a place that shows who we are, but it shows who we want to be. In FB we fake who we are; in Pinterest there’s no need to fake. I’m not central to Pinterest, but my dreams and hopes and ideas are. It’s a way to be social where I don’t have to be central.
Ah. That resonates, too. I think Pinterest, in a small way, points to a greater reality about people and how we are created. God didn’t create me to be central. The world really doesn’t revolve around me, and, surprise, surprise, I’m actually happier when I don’t try to revolve it around me. In the Kingdom of God, there is no place for yelling out “Look at me; look at me,” but there is plenty of place for “Look at this; look at this.” I can point others to lovely things God has made, amazing things he has done, insights he has shared with me. I can be social to the extreme but not be central at all. God is the central figure.
When a whole spiritual community starts to yell “Look at this; look at this,” to share experiences and insights about the Kingdom, the whole community will feel that we’re-in-this-together bond like the visual community does on Pinterest. Factions disappear; ego-based arguments fade away; and nobody has to create a false image to be noticed and loved. It’s all about collecting knowledge and wisdom and character from the group and with the group and for the group, not about standing out from the crowd. God stands out, and we exchange knowledge about him, and the excitement over participating in that exchange bonds us like glue. Pinterest posts inspire me to be creative, to try things, to see new things. A spiritual community that focuses on sharing and pointing to God in all things inspires its members in the same way.
So, I continue to pin. I love to find new things and post them. Yes, my ego gets stroked when people repin my posts, but I know it’s not about me; I’m largely anonymous. It’s just that we’ve shared something, and maybe sharing is really what’s important to me; I just need to make sure I keep that in mind in real life and share things that really matter. And it’s surprising, when we share with each other, how much we also learn about each other, without us ever having to yell out “Look at me; look at me.”