In my most recent Social Media purge, I finally deleted my account with Pinterest, the glorified visual Search Engine. I can’t even tell you how many Boards or Pins I had saved on there over the years, because it was too painful to even take a last look before making the final deletion.
Now, the final straw proved to be political and moral reasons, which prompted me to permanently delete my account; their censorship and data-tracking practices weren’t something that I could tolerate anymore.
However, the truth is that I have known for a while now that Pinterest was not healthy for me anymore. I’ve justified keeping it even as I have progressed in deleting my Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts, but I knew that it was really not that much better than those others. Certainly, there have been times when the website was truly beneficial; providing a needed lifeline during overwhelming and difficult times, glimpses of future possibilities in how I wanted live, ideas and inspiration for all the different areas of life. I had Boards representing my dream home, my ideal fashion look, writing advice and inspiration, and so many food recipes. My Pinterest Boards were such a crystal clear view into my soul, an image of who I wanted to be, but I think that is also why I needed to delete it. It was too revealing, but it was also like a little altar to my Hopes and Dreams, and that altar was not oriented towards God. It became too easy to just go and pray at the altar, to pray to my own mind and ego, rather than getting up and actually working on what I wanted to accomplish.
It’s good to have aspirations, it’s good to have reminders of the life we want to live, and it’s good to have easy access to resources. But the problem with the Internet is the temptation to live that Dream Life only on the Internet; to be over-aware of the “ideal” rather than paying attention to and working with the reality around you. It was lovely to scroll through images on my Fashion Board or my Future Home Board (I actually called it “The Hermitage”) and relax into those fantasies, but in the end this only bred more dissatisfaction with the things that are actually in my life. Having all of those recipes, workout routines, and cleaning tips didn’t necessarily motivate me, they just made me feel guilty that I wasn’t doing more. With all of those options always before me, it was hard to ever settle down and feel enough. But I am enough, my life is enough, and everything around me is enough. I don’t need to seek more.
Just like the lead up to my final repulsion of other social media like Facebook and Instagram, with Pinterest I often found myself needing to take a forced hiatus from time to time. I would have to delete the app entirely from my phone, because of the temptation to spend ungodly amounts of time scrolling and staring at the screen. Because of Pinterest algorithms and “targeted content” and advertising, I couldn’t even control what I was seeing. Even if I tried to curate what I was actually “Following”, Pinterest would still throw “related” Pins at me and I could never find a way to satisfactorily manage what I was being exposed to. I felt like my brain and my attention were constantly being hijacked against my will.
Since making this final break with Pinterest, I have actually felt a profound sense of relief and freedom. The many temptations, idolizations, and procrastination, it’s all just gone; no longer an option, no longer something that I have to actively resist. I am finally free to direct my energy where I want it to go.
The threshold for Social Media tolerance is different for different people; just like we all have different sins and weaknesses that we struggle with. I have friends who only check their Facebook every few weeks or every few months, and there is no temptation to use it as more than just another means of easy communication for people who are spread out in their lives. And I also have friends, and I was this way, whose Facebook or Instagram use verges on addiction, with a constant need to refresh and check every notification that comes in, regardless of what is happening in the physical world around them. A certain level of self-awareness is necessary to know what is best for any one of us. I encourage you to reflect and act accordingly.
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