A Theology of Pinterest
Pinterest can be dangerous. I recently came across an article explaining that Pinterest makes people feel inadequate. If that’s true, then why is it so popular? Why do more than 25 million people spend a chunk of their day pinning bits of the web onto their digital bulletin boards?
Like everything, Pinterest has great potential for good along with the potential to be misused. Let’s start with the good.
From everything I can tell, Pinterest is a hotbed for creativity. Each user “pins” crafts, recipes, parenting tips, or bits of information about anything at all that he or she finds interesting. If you want to know what your friends find clever or inspiring, check their Pinterest boards.
My wife has found a host of fascinating and wonderfully creative craft ideas through Pinterest—and roped me into more than a few woodworking and painting projects at the same time. Pinterest can help you save money (or spend more), teach you how to tackle a difficult project, and inspire you to do otherwise mundane activities with a creative flair.
From a theological perspective, this impulse toward creativity is God-given. The Creator made human beings in His image, and amongst other things, this means that we have been given the ability, desire, and skill to create. God made an incredibly complex world, filled it with unbelievably diverse creatures and endowed it with imaginative properties, and then shaped a garden—not a jungle or a wilderness but a cultivated garden—in the midst of it. Then God creatively formed little culture makers out of the dust of his creation and put them in the midst of that garden “to work it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15).
So if Pinterest makes us more creative, if it pushes us to use our God-given ability to create in more imaginative ways, then Pinterest is a wonderful tool. Add to that the fact that Pinterest can help you get to know the people in your life in ways that you might not otherwise see, and we can affirm that Pinterest is good.
But what about the concerns? Some mothers, for example, have expressed that when they see the educational crafts and gourmet lunchboxes that other moms are creating with and for their kids, it makes them feel like bad mothers. Others see the style and décor that their friends dream up and feel intimidated. Parenting, not to mention life in general, is difficult enough without pressured to impress your friends while you’re at it.
I see two things we can learn from this concern. The first is that in a sin-stained world, people will always find ways of trying to make themselves look good and feel superior to other people. In this sense, the concern about Pinterest is valid and needs to be heeded. If you find an impulse to make yourself look better than you really are when you use Pinterest, then cut it out—either by logging off or challenging your motives. The value of a mother cannot be determined by the aesthetic merits of her child’s crafts. Don’t let a website make you feel otherwise. But be careful about judging the motives of others—your friends may be pinning with pure hearts.
Which brings me to my second point. There’s no reason that seeing the creativity of others should make us feel inadequate. Most likely, the complaints mentioned above stem from an insecurity deeper than anything Pinterest can cause or solve. If you are not confident in yourself as a human being made in God’s image, then you will find reasons to feel inadequate everywhere. If your identity rests in Christ first and foremost, then the projects your friends are taking on can only inspire and never threaten you.
So how do you use Pinterest? Is it a helpful tool to help you in your goal of glorifying God? Because if you have any other goal for anything in your life, you’re bound to end up with problems.