I have a secret internet thing. It’s not a niche strain of porn. It’s not Second Life. It’s not even a Foxy bingo habit. It is Pinterest. And I’m obsessed with it.
For those who don’t know/are living in a deep black hole, Pinterest is a sharing app where people ‘pin’ photos from the internet – good shoes, perfect bodies, perfect plates of food. It’s a veritable collage of the world’s nicest things.
I have created a parallel life on Pinterest and it is my safe realm of fantasy.
Over the last few years, at entry-level adulthood, Pinterest has become a place of escape for me. It’s like the tree in the garden of the house I grew up in where I used to go sit to play with my dolls. I have created a parallel life on Pinterest and it is my safe realm of fantasy.
My boards are as follows: Doll’s Dogs (mostly pictures of dachshunds), Doll’s House (interiors and architecture), Doll’s dresses (clothes, shoes, accessories), Doll’s delights (food and recipes), Doll’s dudes (blokes), Doll’s dolls (women), Doll’s days off (holiday destinations), Doll’s doodling (stationery), Doll dreaming (affirmations, quotes, literature) and, most pitifully, Doll’s daisies (flowers and flower arrangements).
It all began rather innocently. It was just a virtual corkboard for me to remember things I liked that I’d seen online. But I quickly became addicted and suddenly it was less of a virtual shopping list and more of a compulsive 24-hour habit – on the tube, in front of the TV, in bed, all I would do was pin, pin, pin. I was committed to this thing.
People are so bloody NICE on Pinterest. Seriously, get over there and feel out the vibe, because you won’t believe how relaxed it is.
And how could I not be? People are so bloody NICE on Pinterest. Seriously, get over there and feel out the vibe, because you won’t believe how relaxed it is. It’s a sanctuary; a circle of trust. They give each other tips on avoiding product build-up in hair, or they praise each other’s inventive ways of arranging a fruit platter.
‘This is just darling’ they sometimes comment on photos of very intricate napkin rings. Or ‘What a neat idea! Will try it without the mozzarella, as I’m lactose intolerant’.
You can’t post a photo of pizza on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook without someone being all ‘Oh, but is it fair trade’ and ‘Think of the children’ and ‘I find your conflation of pizza and calzone offensive and racist’.
Most social media has become utterly joyless; an audience that wants a storm in a teacup. Whereas all the Pinterest guys want to know is where you got it from and whether it comes with a matching saucer.
I found my people on Pinterest. And in turn, they found me. I slowly started building up my followers and before I knew it I had about five hundred – just well-mannered people who liked my taste in rugs and bakeware.
Soon, I had done 1,000 pins and Cathy, a nice lady from Oklahoma congratulated me via a comment on a photo of a dog in a bonnet. I was lifestyle catfishing them and I enjoyed it. For all they knew, I was just some chic English woman who has super-deluxe taste and owns all these wonderful things.
The lie is magic. In reality, my life is going OK, I suppose. I really hate the carpet in my house, though. I left some tongs on it and it went sticky and stringy, which suggests the fibres are plastic, which I find depressing. And for some reason we have 26 forks, but only one teaspoon. My hair is always shit, I can never get it big enough. In fact I don’t think I’ve liked my hair since 2010.
I work too much, and I never go on holiday. I haven’t been on a beach since 2012. I’m stressed out about not having a pension. My shower is broken and we have to wait a while before we get a plumber in because our landlord let us pay our rent late this month with a vague promise that I will ring him to ‘complain about things less’.
I don’t have a boyfriend or a dog or a house or a baby. Or an umbrella, actually.
I don’t have a boyfriend or a dog or a house or a baby. Or an umbrella, actually. I hang on to the coat tails of dusty relics of luxe – the big Jo Malone candle I eek out over a year or the Mulberry Bayswater I received as an 18th birthday present.
I am bored of my deodorant smell, but it never seems to finish and I can’t very well throw it out. I can never find my socks and my housemate keeps making passive aggressive jokes about how her supply is mysteriously dwindling. Life’s fine, I suppose.
But my life on Pinterest? Well I mean, we’re all very pleased with how that's going. Dolly’s got some very exciting things going on there. She’s got the Diptyque candle in every scent, she’s got the Mulberry Alexa handbag in every colour. She’s got some very handsome boyfriends, she’s going on some terrific holidays. She’s even thinking about starting a board of French chateaux to help with her planned renovation, (Doll’s dream dwelling). Dolly on Pinterest is having a very lovely life indeed.
But then, after a while, I got a bit sad about my perfect Pinterest life. Aspiration shopping started to make me feel down as the reality hit that I would probably never have any of the things I worshipped. It was like that game when you pretend you win the euromillions and you spend it all in your head, then suddenly, you remember you haven’t actually won anything, and you don’t know how you can live in the real world where you buy two blocks of Cathedral City Cheddar for £6.
I had overloaded my head with material things. I felt unsatisfied with my life and guilty about my greed when actually, I have a totally charmed existence I should be very grateful for – full of love and health and happiness.
Pinterest had become tainted. I started hating all their saccharine comments and handy hints on preserving cashmere and the futility of a picture of a bunny with a fucking tulip on its head. I logged out.
Then three months later, something strange happened. I started getting about ten emails a minute telling me that I had new followers. To this day I haven’t been able to trace the source, but I think it was an unusual green velvet sofa I had spotted on a French website that was repinned thousands of times that got me all these followers.
Next thing I knew, Pinterest have emailed me to tell me they’d like to make me a ‘featured pinner’ because of my growing popularity. Featured pinner! Like a prefect, but meaningless!
I am strangely chuffed that I have a following on Pinterest as large as the population of Jersey.
So, I had no choice. I’m back on. With – wait for it – 99,365 followers. I know. It’s the strangest sense of achievement. Essentially I’ve done nothing other than pine over things I can’t afford, and it’s totally inconsequential; it won’t enhance or enrich my life or career in any way.
But I am strangely chuffed that I have a following on Pinterest as large as the population of Jersey. I HAVE THREE TIMES THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE FOLLOWING ME ON PINTEREST THAN THERE ARE RESIDENTS IN MONACO. IT’S BAFFLING.
So this time round, I’m monitoring my habit. I give myself two hours of pinning a week, tops. I came to realise that it’s OK to really like things. I find great pleasure and respite in the beauty of stuff. I know that sounds like an elaborate excuse for being materialistic, but it’s not. I adore buying gifts, I can plan entire days around the things I am going to do with a six quid bag of burrata. I get as much joy from a 99p record as I do a thousand pound holiday. I’m a hoarder; I get a purchase high.
I’ve decided that doesn’t have to negate my concept of value. I KNOW the best things in life are free, and I would like to enjoy them with the birds and the bees. I know the real riches in life aren’t tied in ribbon; it’s waking up next to the person I love or the cool, watery breeze of my favourite beach. It’s the smell of my dad’s cricket jumper or the first mouthful of my mum’s mashed potato when I’m sad. I know that.
But I also know that if you can serve it up in one of the beautiful serving dishes from Anthropologie I’m currently pinning, well hell, that’s just an added bonus.
Like this? Then you might also be interested in:
Follow Dolly on Pinterest: Dolly Alderton
Follow Dolly on Twitter: @DollyAlderton
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.