It’s Time to Break up Pinterest

Mike Shields
May 13 · 3 min read

My wife and I recently decided to redo our kids playroom. And like most folks in that situation, we had a grand vision of what we wanted that room to look like. And then we went online.

Before I knew it, I found myself clicking through reams of fabulously cozy dens, and I wanted to curl up in each and every one. I was seduced by sectionals, awakened by jewel tones, and awash in cleverly arranged throw pillows.

I soon realized it wasn’t my den anymore. I was under the pinfluence and i didn’t like it. I also loved it — just too much.

I know it’s not popular to stay this. It feels anti capitalist, if not un American.

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that Pinterest is just too powerful. We’ve never seen one company, one executive in this case, wield this much taste. No one should ever have this much sway of the world’s feng shui.

Don’t believe me? Back in 2013, a web company out of Seattle tried its hand at creating a sleek, easy to use, super pinnable digital scrapbook where people could showcase their favorite looks, aspirational travel destinations or just simply gorgeous images of sets of high end cutlery. They called it Collections.

Here’s what Collections looks like today.

I’ll save you a click. It’s gone. That little company was Amazon. And despite its shopping cache, Pinterest’s rugged — call it rustic even — chic’, crushed Amazon’s visual search aspirations.

If Pinterest can do that to Amazon, what chance do the rest of us have, even those of us who absolutely love to DIY?

With all this overheated (or over haute) rhetoric, you have to remind yourself, we’re still a country of laws. Our antitrust protections were put in place to protect all Americans, of every income strata and style ability. It’s all in the Constitution.

Let’s be honest however. Things were different when these laws were written. Our founding fathers surely could not have foreseen the virality of easily shareable collages, or the enticing allure of click to buy buttons. George Washington didn’t spend his days pining to recreate farmhouse decor — he had an actual farmhouse. His friends weren’t bending over backwards to dress like 18th century blacksmiths like so many trendsetting Brooklynites -they were blacksmiths. My point is, the signers of the bill of rights couldn’t possibly have expected so many of us to be fighting for our own right to colorful couture, or coming to terms with how much natural light can do to a Veranda. They have want that power checked.

Besides Pinterest’s over-concentration of clout , there’s the way that misinformation can spread unchecked on the platform. By now, we’ve all probably received an image from a family member, one claiming that the Huffman Koos credenza from one Kings Lane isn’t made of real Burlwood. Now people inside the furniture world are certain this isn’t true. They see the actions of the Russians, or maybe Wayfair, behind these memes. The thing is, how can any of us really know? Machine learning can’t keep up with unmitigated inspiration, authentic or otherwise.

It’s time.

Ben Silbermann is a lovely man. I met him once in Cannes and he couldn’t have been kinder. But I don’t think even he realizes the Victorian Sunroom monster he’s created. Nearly every day I find myself, am I keen to crock pot chilaquiles because I want to? Or because Ben wants me to?

I shouldn’t have to answer that question. And neither should you.

Mike Shields

Written by

Mike Shields has logged more than two decades working in media, advertising and marketing.