I’ve been aware of Pinterest for some time now. I don’t use it myself but my wife has dabbled with it for months. She uses it to piece together collections of patterns, furniture or simply images of nature that inspire her. She even has a section titled “For Colin's Belly” which contain recipes for desserts that my stomach appreciates (although, worryingly it’s so enlarged that it’s only a matter of time before it has its own twitter account). When you pin these collections the public can view them and re-pin them. It’s a simple way of spreading information, designs or aspirational pictures, and it’s about the objects being pinned rather than the… err Pinner. It’s certainly not as self-indulgent as Facebook, or as vain as having a blog on a website that has your own name as an address… Hmm.

Anyway, until a few weeks ago it was a fairly low key site mostly inhabited by designers and artists. Then recently an article appeared in the Guardian newspaper pointing out that Pinterest currently had 12 million American devotees and 200,000 in the UK. The article positions it as possibly the next Facebook. But you know what? It isn’t (thankfully) and should never be a contender for that crown. Pinterest’s main attraction is that you know nothing about the person pinning and you don’t need to know. This to my mind is pretty nice. But, now companies have noticed that there is an untapped audience here and when that happens they get their tapping commercial sledgehammers out and bombard those prospective customers. It’s a shame that the internet has evolved from its origins to become nothing more than a gigantic worldwide billboard for advertisers and corporations.

It’s happened to Twitter and Facebook. Everybody and everything is on Twitter. Even yogurt manufacturers are on twitter. Come follow me they say. Why? What could a yogurt possibly have done that’s interesting enough to comment? What adventures does a strawberry twirl sugar free tub have? Did it have an argument with the Pineapple Crush, or has it been jilted by the uncaring thoughts of the Apricot Splash?  Probably not, they’re nothing more than another way to fill our heads with their products.

And if Pinterest doesn’t watch out it will happen to them too. Yesterday, Universal studios appeared on my Facebook page to inform me that they were on Pinterest. I couldn’t contain my excitement… oh! wait… yes I could… quite easily. Their post went as follows:

“Universal Studios is using Pinterest, an online pinboard to collect and share what inspires you.”

Really? Are you sure you’re not just taking the opportunity to try and flog me more of your tired output. I mean, is anybody really inspired by Russell Crowe’s Irish accented Robin Hood?  It’s funny, but Universal is celebrating its hundredth year and that’s the film they choose to push. It’s almost like there’s a warehouse filled with surplus copies of the damn movie and they’re desperate to unload them. This warehouse probably resembles the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Eventually either Pinterest will end up resembling the side of a bus shelter or a subway wall, by being simply plastered in corporate posters for more risible rubbish, or it will push these aside and return to what it was, a quiet, aspirational site. I hope it’s the latter as it would be nice to have one place where somebody wasn’t trying to sell me something. 

Excuse the Noise

3/2/2012

 
At this very moment I’m supposed to be creating a statement of purpose for graduate school, rewriting a screenplay and working on another project. However, what is really happening is a complete paralysis of action, a desert of thought, a drought of imagination… Well, you get the point.

Sometimes the words flow like scent seeping from a perfume bottle shattered on a tiled bathroom floor. The letters ooze along the crannies and the cracks while the sweetly smelling sentences fill the room with pungent paragraphs of perfection. Other times they fire forth like diabolical diarrhea instigated by a badly cooked curry that was devoured the night before. A meal, that like those words inside your head, you loved so much the previous evening, but now when exposed to the day has turned against you. Those canny clauses and pretty puns that made you smile are now as meaningful and worthwhile as the remnants of that spicy sauce which is firing into your cheap ceramic toilet. Occasionally, like now, the words have to be forced out as if they are the last remnants of toothpaste from an overused tube. And like that insignificant amount of paste you try to spread those words around. You swish with them, and gargle with them, until you realize that there isn’t enough to clean a page.

This is when writing is at its most painful. The words are not plucked like abundant aging apples on a drooping tree; they’re yanked from inside kicking and screaming and then vomited into the world. Now I’m not claiming that writing is physically painful. Although sitting on your arse for eight hours doesn’t do wonders for the posture. I’m not saying it’s as demanding as working down a coal mine (which is the cliché everybody employs when trying to describe real hard work). But it is mentally painful when nothing is occurring. There's a profound ache when the words decide to play the reluctant bride, and the marriage between page and text has been cancelled. Then it hurts.

So for now I sit and scrutinize this nonsense on my screen (and now possibly on yours too), these words say little and they mean even less, but they’re mine. And they’ll do.

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