Pinterest : off-putting or useful?

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AGAINST

There’s something about Pinterest that unsettles my stomach.

While it’s an innovative and successful platform, it’s used in too narrow of a way, specifically by the female target demographic.

The website allows users to create personalized boards designed to categorize the photos they “pin” on the site. Users are able to choose whatever images they like to add and pin to their boards.

Since 2011, the photo-sharing platform’s popularity has grown exponentially. The most popular type of photos on Pinterest, according to a 2012 study, are home, arts and crafts, style/fashion and food.

This is worrisome to me, especially since women make up 68 per cent of the site’s users.

When did women’s interests become so narrow? In this day and age, are these really our top interests? Without any guidelines in place, users gravitate towards domestic interests. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having these interests, but I believe women care about a wide variety of topics. Why can’t we broaden the types of images we share?

The National Post and NBC have attempted to share their photojournalism through the site. While they have their own Pinterest boards, when I look at the site’s home page, I don’t see these photos. Instead, I see wedding dresses and cookie recipes.

From this, companies that promote domestic lifestyles for women are benefiting.

Last year, Pinterest became the top referral site for both marthastewart.com and marthastewartweddings.com.

There’s nothing wrong with a woman looking and appreciating a wedding dress, but I hope those who do so on Pinterest understand the greater image they’re contributing to — one where women’s interests don’t go beyond food and fashion.

In another world, Pinterest could be a fantastic social media site. But it also might be portraying an unfairly narrow view of women’s interests.

Alison is one of the Features Editors at the Journal.

FOR

Pinterest, with all of its controversies and quirks, has sparked my interest.

In 2012, Forbes published an article stating that Pinterest had made it onto the list of top-50 most-visited websites in the US with 25 million unique visitors in October alone.

I can understand why. I’ve spent time stumbling through the Internet, going through page after page of do-it-yourself ombre hair and places to satisfy my wanderlust. I found myself hankering for a way to take note of all these places I’d visited online.

Then I realized that Pinterest, a website I’d been peer-pressured into joining months before because of its recent popularity, could do just that. I’ve even installed a little ‘Pin-it!’ button on my browser toolbar so I can pin without having to sign onto the website. I love the organization it’s given me. Now, when I get a bit of free time, I can fill it by planning my eventual world travels instead of watching the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Kudos to the creators; their novel idea has obviously been incredibly successful. Across the world pinners are organizing their surfing, which is quite possibly making them more productive than before, if they’re anything like me.

Pinning isn’t all whoopie pie recipes and marble nails, though.

Hashtags such as #thinterest and #thinspiration are said to be perpetuating eating disorders.

Having an online and constantly accessible collection of images that show men and women sporting the ‘perfect body’ could bolster unrealistic and dangerous goals when it comes to the health and fitness regimes of some pinners.

Despite this, the benefits still stand.

Pinners are always going to be looking for the next best thing for their pinboards, and that’s great but where do we draw the line?

In a society that’s becoming more reliant on what is online, Pinterest has a very important role to play as long as we see the line where the pinboards end and where real life begins.

Rosie is one of the Features Editors at the Journal.

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