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Pin Up: How Pinterest Hooks the Aspirational Housewife In All Of Us

As our free time shrinks, we turn to Pinterest to fantasize about having the time to grow organic tomatoes and create sparkling castles for our kids.


Last fall, my cousin Jen introduced me to Pinterest, a new social network organized around “idea boards.” Users “pin” inspirational photos, designs, and fabrics they like and group them into themed boards, like “Bedrooms for Little Girls” or “Crafts With Kids,” to share them with friends and perfect strangers. Jen is a party planner who loves matching napkins and plates. As a mom and a blogger, my clothing alternates between pajamas and old jeans from the Gap. (If I’m getting fancy, I’ll add bracelets and boots), so I initially ignored her suggestion. But last week, buried under a mountain of post-vacation dirty laundry and a long grocery list, I felt like procrastinating enough to finally sign up.

When I logged on, Pinterest suggested that I set up my own boards with titles like “Favorite Places & Spaces,” “My Style,” and “Books Worth Reading.” The site’s sample board, “Products I Like,” grated on me. Did they want me to provide free advertising for peanut butter and cleaning equipment? Faced with the earnest overload, my first impulse was to create evil idea boards, like “Obscure Diseases I Think I Have” or “Strange Stinks in My House.”


But soon I had assembled a board of lovely pictures from a recent Vogue article about the new Islamic art exhibit in the Met. Then, I made a board of clothes I thought a professional writer would wear. “Cool Vacation Spots” came next. It was fun to create a prettier world for myself. And the adrenaline hit that came from others “liking” my boards fueled the desire to make more and more.

Pinterest’s lethal combination of social media competition and escapism helps explain its massive popularity—10 million members and 1.36 million visits per day. In January, 11.7 million visitors came to look at the pictures of Easter eggs, impossibly high heels, and hamburger recipes; 68 percent of them were female. According to Ignite, the typical Pinterest user is a middle-aged woman with some college education and a household income between $25,000 and $75,000. But even among my Ph.D.- and master's degree-educated personal network, Pinterest boards abound.

For overworked professionals and parents like us, Pinterest provides a type of personal gratification we don’t get elsewhere. Even if we’re working 60 hour days or sleepily carting the kids to soccer practice, it lets us slip easily into the role of handy, happy housewife. I’ve felt this rush of feminine validation before: When I was a grad student living in a cramped New York City apartment, I filled that void with a subscription to Martha Stewart Living. I’d spend hours paging through Martha's ideas for potted African violets and fun things to do with orzo. Did I ever actually pot African violets or cook up sautéed mushrooms with my tiny pasta? No. My apartment was too small for company, and I was too busy studying for exams. Instead, I ate egg sandwiches from the corner Korean deli, drank a lot of beer, and read Martha to satisfy my longing for a backyard garden, bountiful meals, and dinner guests in pastel-colored sweaters.

Pinterest—like Martha Stewart, Etsy, or newspaper articles expounding on the joys of artisanal pickles—allows us to quickly satisfy those typically feminine, domestic expectations that our careers and schoolwork have rendered impossible. Pinterest makes us feel like we’re actually doing something, even though few of us will actually act on any of our idea boards—just as I never left a potted violet by my one window in my New York apartment.

Why are we so hungry for the flowery dresses on Pinterest and the brew kits on Etsy? We’re busy and burned out. Some of us, like my husband and our friends, are putting in 60 to 80 hours a week at the office under the constant fear that they’ll be fired if they head home early. Others, like me, face dismal laundry piles and soccer schedules without a spouse to share the burden. We’re either increasingly alienated from domestic life, or beaten down by its monotonous realities.

As our free time shrinks, we turn to Pinterest to fantasize about having the time to grow organic tomatoes and create sparkling castles for our children's bedrooms. We long to walk away from our office computers and minivan wheels and make things with our hands. So we pin images of women floating through gardens in flowery dresses, and approve of our friends who share in the fantasy, too. We may never make that bucolic scene a reality, but in the meantime, Pinterest is making big money off letting adults play make-believe.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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