Is Pinterest Helping Me Organize Projects or Hoard Virtual Clutter?
If you've been on Pinterest, you've seen the memes joking about how Pinterest is nothing more than digital hoarding.
I admit. I have a board dedicated to coffee humor.
And another few boards featuring geek humor and various fandoms.
Not all of my boards serve a practical purpose beyond making me smile. I do like to collect things and Pinterest allows me to share my stockpiles, my treasuries, my compilations without accumulating physical clutter.
Is Pinterest helping me organize my life or encouraging me to electronically hoard?
I have 68 public boards and five private ones. I decided to evaluate each board to determine whether or not the board served a purpose. Here's how my boards stacked up:
- Boards for a project or reference: 49
- Group boards I joined because I enjoy their feed: 4
- Boards where I'm digitally hoarding: 20
The 49 project and reference boards are invaluable to me.
They help me organize this blog, plan meals, choose my next book to read, remember gift ideas, network in an increasingly online world, and discover new ideas for organizing many of my life projects. Pinterest has its uses.
#1 favorite reasons for using Pinterest?
Its ability to allow me to visually bookmark information in a way that makes sense to me.
I'm sure some people look at some of my boards and wonder why I placed that Pin there. Or why I named a board a certain way. And that's okay. The board is content that I'm curating. And I regularly delete Pins. I even delete whole boards for completed or now irrelevant projects.
Do I really delete Pins?
Yes. I have six boards where I collect different recipes and information about food, cooking and general health. I use these boards frequently, so I feel okay with pinning a recipe or an article or infographic without looking at it too closely. If I'm scrolling through my Pinterest feed as the barista makes my coffee, I don't have time to read every Pin that looks good.
I will check that the link is good though. If there's no valid link, there's no point to my saving the Pin to any of my boards.
When I was first on Pinterest, I saw several people writing descriptions that said "Pin now. Read later." I don't see that description much nowadays and I don't use that system. Instead when I have more time to review a few recipes, I'll evaluate how healthy the recipe is, how easy it is for me to learn, and whether or not I want to keep the Pin. I've pinned and then later deleted many recipes.
I've found many posts about blogging on Pinterest. If I read the post and realize that the information is not useful to me, I delete that Pin. My Pinterest collection is in constant flux.
So what about deleting whole boards? Really?
Yes. When I lived in Tucson, I had a board for every room in my home plus a board for ideas on how to use my backyard space. When I moved to Denver, I kept those boards for a while and I was pinning ideas for organizing items in my 500 square foot apartment.
Unfortunately, I was pinning small space ideas onto boards that were organized by room, which made my work flow on organizing my apartment pretty clunky. I decided to down-size my boards into one focused on small space organization. I moved the useful Pins to that board and then deleted the leftovers, including the board on backyard space because I no longer had a backyard.
I used to have inspiration boards organized by color. The Pins were mostly beautiful pictures featuring particular colors. When I realized that I never looked at those boards...for anything...I deleted every one of them.
But what about those 20 boards where I admit to hoarding? I examined those boards closely too.
The last Pin I placed on my coffee humor board was five days ago. Before that? The last pin was from seven weeks ago.
On my Denver board, the last Pin was placed 25 weeks ago. I'm hoarding information about a city I no longer live in, but I know I'll visit Denver again. Someday. While some links for Pins may change, the Pin itself serves as a reminder that this place or event exists.
Looking over the majority of my digital hoarding boards, I noticed that I don't Pin to them as frequently as I once did. I have two schools of thought here.
First, I'm a smarter Pinterest user now.
When my sister first told me about Pinterest, she warned me that I would lose hours of my life to this site. Luckily, I believed her and delayed having her send me a Pinterest invitation. I had just finished teaching for the 2011-2012 school year when I created my Pinterest account. And I spent the first days of my summer on my iMac creating boards, pinning, reading, exploring, and hoarding.
Out of the 20 boards where I still electronically hoard, six of them were created during my first weeks on Pinterest. I'm pretty sure I've changed the names of all of these boards at some point, but the content hoarding began back then. And I'm not surprised. I had been the person who clipped magazine articles and saved them into binders for future reference. I had an entire binder of book lists alone.
The thing about me using Pinterest now is that I use Pinterest like I never used those binders. The binders sat on my bookshelf and every once in a while I would reference an article. I reference my Pinterest boards and Pins frequently. Even some of the boards where I know I'm hoarding. If I've had a bad day and need something to restore my faith in humanity, I know I can look at my board View to Lower My Blood Pressure. That's where I collect cute pictures of animals and sweet stories about people helping one another. Within minutes, I feel better.
I'm also conscientiously not sitting down to pin for hours on end. Every once in a while, I will allow myself a Pinterest marathon. Usually, these longer stretches of pinning time are centered around a project I'm beginning and I want to jump start my research. And Pinterest is a great place to find content that may be more useful. I can see how many times a Pin has been repinned or favorited. Sometimes I find a Pinner who has already curated the practically perfect collection of what I'm looking for. My binder system couldn't do that!
Second, I think the Pinterest's newish home feed also known as Smart Feed is keeping me focused.
All those algorithms are keeping track of what I pin and who I follow. Part of me is terrified by the sheer amount of information Pinterest has collected about me by watching my pinning habits. But then the other part of me kicks in. The part where I shrug and accept that this is the bargain with the devil that I willingly struck. I agreed to their Terms and Conditions in exchange for the free use of their site.
And their Smart Feed does seem to be helping me more than I thought it would when I first heard about it. The more I pin about blogging, the more Pins about blogging I see. The more book lists I pin, the more Pins about books I see. I usually search for particular kinds of recipes, so more and more recipes get pushed to my feed.
Since I'm not searching for coffee humor, I'm rarely seeing coffee memes. I rarely see my geek Pins. If I find a few fellow geeks and follow their boards on Harry Potter or Star Wars, I may see an influx of geekdom, but as soon as I start pinning more practical or useful Pins for projects, my feed adjusts accordingly.
My bottom line?
Pinterest may be digital hoarding, but it's also a planning and organization tool. How wisely I use that tool is up to me.