By Catiana Nak Kheiyn
I'm not a fan of rocking the boat. I mean, I really don't like it. However, with the rising popularity of a new social network called Pinterest, I feel compelled to express myself. As a dear friend has advised me, "Rocking the boat is good—if it's rocked for a reason deeper than just wanting to cause discord." I mean no disrespect, but I do hope that these words give avid pinners something to think about.
Being the technology geek that I am, I had to check out Pinterest when I first started hearing about it around the end of 2011. Pinterest "allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web" by using virtual "pins" to post images from other websites onto a virtual corkboard that you create . Pretty pictures? Organizing? Oh, yeah, I'm in!
But as I sat browsing through people's boards, I kept thinking, "None of it is theirs. None of it is original." This tiny irk kept jarring me as somehow being wrong. People were building fantasy lives of desires and wants, visually defining themselves as individuals based on the beauty of their photo finds. The idea did not sit well. I don't want to be defined by what others do; I want to be defined by what I do (Galatians 6:3-4).
While Pinterest is a handy, visually appealing way to keep track of articles, recipes, links, or laughter that you want to access later, those who delve too deeply into it will find themselves coveting the things of others and missing out on what is right in front of them (Luke 12:15). A virtual house gets built up around what we wish we could be—things we want, things we desire, things that make us happy. But that make-believe house is not real or attainable. There is no way we can become the people we create on Pinterest.
I have to confess, I have fallen into the black hole of pin-boards once or twice, scrolling through image after image, muttering, "I want this, I want that, I want to do that, I want to be there." Should I pin such images and use them for dreaming later on? Pin them so the masses can see what I'm all about? Publicly flaunt my desire for worldly things and places? Is that who I really am?
Pinterest fulfills our yearning to live a fantasy life in a fantasy world, thereby avoiding actual life. It fills our mouths with whipped cream so we can skip out on the vegetables. Eventually, we begin to detach from reality; the fantasy we've consumed turns and consumes us instead. A friend of mine says that Pinterest is soothing and calming, that she can spend hours sorting and organizing. I love organizing too. Give me a messy closet to fix up, and I'll be a happy girl. But what can we achieve by sorting and organizing virtual "stuff"—stuff that's not even ours? (Matthew 6:19-21)
Please don't misunderstand. I actually do like Pinterest. There is some value in what they're doing. (Even Blogos.org has pin-boards.) The site is not inherently bad, though the potential is great for people to lose their focus on what is truly valuable. But it isn't Pinterest that's the problem. It is that our hearts are restless, we want to escape, and we often wander off in the wrong direction to find meaning (Psalm 55:4-8). We’re organizing our hopes and dreams—putting them into boxes—instead of acting upon them.
Granted, the uses of Pinterest are evolving. I have seen small businesses, corporations, and non-profit organizations alike utilizing the site to promote their causes and attract attention to themselves. Okay, that's marketing. I get that. I even follow several of Christian author Jon Acuff's boards. Yes, I realize it's a technique used to remain in the face of followers so that when a new conference or book comes around, they'll happily receive the news. But I'm certain many people have plenty of good reasons to use Pinterest that may not be damaging to themselves or others. Blogos uses pins to help reach others and spread spiritual truth.
Nevertheless, as individuals, we should not attempt to find meaning in "things"—especially not someone else's things (1 John 2:15). That's not to say that everything in the world is bad for us, for "precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it" (Proverbs 21:20). Philippians 4:8 says to dwell upon "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable."
We are ambassadors for the Marvelous Light of a Holy nation, sent to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness (1 Peter 2:9). Things of this world pale in comparison to the riches God offers. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? ...You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. ...Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven" (Matthew 5:13-16).
Why plot and plan for things that may or may not ever be? Matthew 6:25 says, "Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" Indeed, it is! Why spend our time huddled over a computer screen, sorting our virtual dreams, wishing and wanting, when the world waits outside?
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