Pinterest: a love-hate relationship

Pinterest has lots of useful reference tools, instruments, infographics, etc., for a budding social worker.  Yay.

Pinterest has the best of past and current humor, which provides instant, round-the-clock, therapeutic yuks to stressed-out grad students.  Yay.

Pinterest has obscure, international, rare and hard to find images (yay) but I worry about infringement of rights and uncredited images (boo, uh-oh, eep).  It’s still wonderful (and more fruitful than Google Image Search) to find images of my hometown and ancestral villages at different points in history (and other rich stuff like that).

Pinterest has good-hearted folks with poorly documented assertions.  Sigh.

(I don’t want to go on Snopes patrol, but when folks with good intentions and sympathetic politics spout BS, it must be corrected or it makes the team look stupid.  But it’s easy to let go, since most of the problematic stuff is just trying to be heartwarming.  A named bullfighter “overcome with emotion who can no longer torment animals” is actually a completely different bullfighter who is engaging in a standard gesture of defiance and contempt for the bull, etc.)

Pinterest has evil-hearted folks with poorly documented assertions.  Bloody!  I don’t even know how they turn up in my feminist, left-wing feed, but the racist, sexist, religionist, every-other-awful-thing-ist junk abounds.  Strangely, those pages always seem to include lots of really misinformed health information (Cancer Cells Can’t Survive Without Sugar!) that are eerily reminiscent of the Weekly World News.  Sometimes these nutballs pick fights on my posts and it is both interesting and horrible to have political arguments with strangers.  Go get your own page!  Shoo!

But the thing Pinterest whips out that baffles me most is the strange bedfellows.  I posted a ludicrous snake-oil tract from the early 20th c. about Atomic Energy And Fasting (God’s Power for YOU!) strictly for its camp value.  I thought it was a scream.  Every single person who has repinned it put it on a sincere, very earnest board about the power of Christian fasting in intercessory prayer.  (Okaaaay…but…oh, well, never mind.)

The right wing nutjobs (the kind who blame Obama if it rains) are also often anti-cancer nutjobs (honey cures it, but sugar deprivation also cures it, whatever) who post at length about the evils of Monsanto.

The anti-gay folks who sneer at liberals for boycotting Chik-Fil-A but not OPEC (who operates under anti-gay Sharia law) also, themselves, hate Sharia law, hate OPEC, and drive cars just as much as liberals.  (Do not try to mention that driving is a work/life necessity and fast food is not.  Do not try to explain that while OPEC is the main source of petroleum for the US, domestic and Canadian fuel still make up a great deal of what we use.  Do not engage them at all.  It’s futile.)

But for all its freaks and fallacies and Photoshop, I love Pinterest.  It’s a treasure chest where people put things they find beautiful and meaningful and funny.  And when I find some stranger whose boards are a lot like my own, I feel connected and thrilled.  When someone on the bus is reading a book I love, I wonder if she’s being entertained or bored or offended or baffled.  On Pinterest, I know for sure, because she has pinned it to a board called “Fictional Worlds / True Love” and it’s right between Narnia and Earthsea.  The books on that board I haven’t read yet suddenly shoot to the top of my library list.  And there are other boards, for movies, TV, clothes, style, pets, humor, work, food, crafts, life hacks, travel, personal history, world history, pin up gals, art, war, animals, science, politics, tradeskills, and all the pursuits of humanity.

And if anyone sneers that I should get out more, it’s true.  But until I can travel to a 12th century battleground, 1970s Vegas, the British Museum, or that geothermal park in Iceland, I still want to look at pictures and get to know strangers who got to go themselves — or want to, just like me, and like me, and like me.

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