I love Pinterest. The free exchange of ideas in pictorial form, easily organized and unpacked, I think that is fantastic. Aside from that, it seems to provide the exact level of mental engagement that I need in order to watch television without being too bored nor too distracted. Adequate television watching accommodations are obviously a very important function. Pictures of cats, cake recipes, household tips, crafty projects, and funny memes, where could be the bad in that?
Well the problem that I am seeing with such a free, widespread, and anonymous exchange of ideas is that harmful but unspoken themes in our culture.
My very intelligent stepdaughter once told me astutely that you can say things while chatting with someone online that you wouldn’t be comfortable talking about face to face. She very effectively summed up something described in numerous articles by psychologists: that social media affects the communication style and skills of those who use it, and privacy is evaporating in the age of mass sharing.
When we can be more open online about things that would be socially uncomfortable, from tweens discussing crushes to the full range of mature subjects, we will share more of what we truly feel but, for whatever reason, would hesitate to speak aloud. We lose sense of social boundaries, and (I am no psychologist or sociologist or expert of any kind, so take what I say with a grain of salt, and with it) it seems we also lose the influence of a social conscience.
My very unscientific observation is that what we find funny reveals our true values. People who are not racist or sexist do not laugh at jokes which are. And generally, from my experience, people save their worst material for when they are sure of a sympathetic, or at least captive, audience.
All that seems to change on pinterest. Jokes and memes that someone would not say to a stranger, especially someone to whom that joke applies, are repinned freely, for strangers to see. Taking another leap of inference, I am guessing that those for whom socially offensive ‘isms’ are hiding in a back corner of their subconscious, (and let’s be honest we all have something icking up our subconscious) are being reassured that whatever our isms, they are ok. We can then take our isms out of the corner and invite them to live with us.
Anyone who has ever offended someone in jest, then told them to calm down because its ‘just a joke’ or even just laughed at said offensive joke will say I am over thinking this. But there is a generation of young people growing up seeing these things. Laughing at them. Internalizing them. Here are a few examples of the s*** on Pinterest I’m talking about:
I could go into details as to why each are offensive, but I won’t, that’s not today’s point. Although if you would like clarification as to why and are not a troll, by all means ask. The point is, these are meant to be funny. And insidious isms are the worst kind. Laughing at crap like this makes it seem less crappy. And when you are sharing these ‘jokes’ you are internalizing and spreading hate like a disease, without even knowing it. My beloved Pinterest seems to be culpable in the increasing ignorance of America.