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Point/Counterpoint Pinterest: An outlet for unrealistic fantasy, wasted time

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Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 7:00 am

Every few years, a new social networking website springs from obscurity to the headlines riding on the coattails of sites like Facebook and Twitter. One of the latest crazes picking up steam, Pinterest, has recently swept the web with 48 million unique global visits in December 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This virtual bulletin board, which allows users to create unique boards and post photos tailored to their interests, is rapidly gaining popularity but has a largely skewed demographic heavily favoring women, who account for roughly 80 percent of Pinterest’s users.

While avid pinners rave about such benefits as simple organization of boards for do-it-yourself projects, recipes, fashion apparel and more, Pinterest poses as many problems as it does advantages.

A big issue surrounding the basic premise of the site, pinning and repinning images others have posted that users like, is copyright infringement. While it does explicitly state in Pinterest’s terms of use that the users who post original photos need to be the owners or have the license to use the image, that does not stop people from posting copyrighted material.

Although it is not as big an issue as with the music industry because most companies want the exposure and won’t see a loss in profits, it can become problematic for photographers and artists who post their original work. These images can easily be taken from Pinterest and used at the downloader’s discretion.

Additionally, according to Pinterest’s terms of use, “You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest.”

Once an image makes its way to Pinterest, they can essentially do whatever they like with it. That may not bother some people, but it may raise some eyebrows with others.

Another issue, like with all social networking, is the time-sink factor. Users can end up spending hours pinning away instead of using their time for productive means. Some of the categories make it like a dumping ground for all of the memes and demotivational posters on the web. Combined with Facebook and Twitter, there are now enough ways to waste time online that a whole day of work can be squandered away.

Not only can Pinterest get in the way of productivity, it can also worm its way into personal relationships. There is nothing like trying to watch a movie with your girlfriend only to find her tittering at the newest pin one of her friends sent her. Perhaps this is just payback for all the times girls have had to sit through “just one more match” as their boyfriends play “Call of Duty,” but fire is not the best way to fight fire.

While there are benefits such as organizing DIY projects, some users can take this to the extreme and beyond. Pinning Dolce and Gabbana shoes that cost upwards of $700 with captions like “OMG I want these!” while painstakingly making your way through college sets unrealistic expectations. The chances are you won’t be able to afford this sort of luxury item for a long time unless you strike it rich.

Perhaps it’s just the Y chromosome in me, but it seems a little unsettling when women — many of them single — are planning out their weddings before there is a ring on that finger.

I understand that many young girls start planning this special day in their heads from when they start playing with dolls, but it seems a completely different thing once there are virtual pictures up for the entire world to see.

You can keep pinning pictures of Beyonce’s 20-karat rock, but chances are the man you end up with won’t be able to afford the $5 million price tag.

The concept of Pinterest makes a lot of sense for businesses to get their products out to a larger audience and increase traffic to their websites. However, it seems to often be used as an escape from reality, creating a fantasy that will most likely let the user down when it never comes to be. Time would be better spent working towards making your aspirations a reality, not pining for your dream wedding and repinning pictures of cute hair dos.

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The Alestle Volume 68, No. 27