Pinterest brings guilt of what could be

Dear Internet: Thanks a lot.

It’s not as though you hadn’t already gifted me with countless time-sucking devices, now there’s another: one combining the chatty, TMI aspects of social media with a hefty dose of unfulfilled DIY ambition and naked consumer lust.

Enter Pinterest, a pinboard-styled photo-sharing website. Think of it as a digital scrapbooking site, a way to share accomplishments, projects and product wish lists. Users curate themed boards (Dream Vacation, Books to Read, Recipes to Try, etc.) by “pinning” items (typically photos, but videos, chats and other forms of media also work) to said boards.

It’s one of the Web’s most fascinating sites—and also one of its most annoying.

Founded in 2010, Pinterest, according to its founders, is designed to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”

And connect it does. The Palo Alto-based company is currently blowing up the Internet. In January, Pinterest boasted numbers placing it as the fastest-growing social-networking site. It also recently laid claim to 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, according to stats from comScore—a feat that meant it crossed the 10-million user mark faster than any other stand-alone site. Ever.

And it’s particularly popular among women. According to company data, women comprise more than 80 percent of Pinterest’s registered users.

Or, as the technology site Gizmodo explained it, Pinterest is, basically, a “Tumblr for the Ladies.”

In other words, this translates to a bunch of boards made up of shoe photos, wedding-day wish lists and mouth-watering picture links to recipes for Hello Kitty cupcakes.

And that’s at least part of the problem.

A site that emphasizes everything I aspire to be yet absolutely don’t have the time to follow through on? It’s like Martha Stewart herself handcrafted a portal into this perfect world, one that I could never actually inhabit.

Thanks Internet, like I really needed a reminder that I don’t have enough time or money to create, accomplish or buy even a minuscule fraction of my hopes, desires and ambitions.

Not everyone sees it that way of course. A Huffington Post writer, for example, praised Pinterest as a welcome respite from Web-based information overload, while The New York Times applauded it as relief from social media’s “usual goal … [of] self-absorption, self-documenting and self-promotion.”

Really? Actually, it seems as though that Pinterest fits in quite nicely in our current social-media spectrum.

Like other networking sites, Pinterest allows users to follow one another, comment on pins and cross-post on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. While there’s generally an absence of posts centered on politics or other pressing issues—and this is, likely, part of the reason it’s earned such a girly reputation—Pinterest nonetheless allows users to promote a carefully cultivated, idealized self-image.

In a perfect world I’d totally master those gourmet cupcakes, craft my own upcycled clothes and decorate my home with pristine, vintage Hollywood Regency accessories.

Reality, of course, is quite different and, when perusing this Candy Land-esque board of dreams, comparatively depressing.

Perhaps I should just view the site as inspiration—a built-to-order muse for the ideas, ambitions and wishes lurking down deep in my soul.

And, to an extent, that’s exactly what it is. But it’s also intimidating and more than a bit irritating. As yet another cog in the social-media network, it’s just one more place where we have to worry if we’re making connections and building conversations, or if perhaps we’ve just found another way to contribute to the deafening white noise of the Internet.