Pinterest Skeptics Board
May 26, 2013 7:15 AM   Subscribe

"I don't think the pronoun "it" can have "whoever you want to be" as an antecedent." The Pinterest Skeptics Board mocks widely shared inspirational quotes.
posted by escabeche (120 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
"You can't spell beautiful without U T, which kind of gets to the heart of my proposition."
posted by mintcake! at 7:23 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


@pinterest skeptics board

humor does exist - you just have to believe and fake it until you make it

one glorious day, you will actually be funny - keep trying
posted by pyramid termite at 7:24 AM on May 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


I would like to see more of this, but focused on marketing messages. And spray painted on billboards.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:25 AM on May 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Determined or not, that cat is long dead.
posted by The Whelk at 7:26 AM on May 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Actually billboards do have one enormous advantage over online ads -- it's trivial to culture jam a billboard. Jamming an online ad requires some pretty deep skills.

Hmm.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:26 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I really like the Smithsonian ads.

But the Genghis Khan one is a bit misleading - they think that so many people are related to him not just because he had a lot of children, but he elevated many of his male relatives to positions of power and they also had many, many children.
posted by jb at 7:31 AM on May 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not so much skepticism as "repeated attempts at bon mots," really.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh youre so edgy mom luv u

ps I love yur new doily pins totally classic u!
posted by boo_radley at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is pretty brilliant.

This one epitomizes this genre of "inspirational" pablum—a bunch of meaningful-sounding words mushed together without stopping for one second to consider whether they do, in fact, mean anything.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:32 AM on May 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Eugh. Some of them are okay, but stuff like this? (Quote: "Little girls with dreams become women with vision." Response: "I think a lot of them just end up planning really trashy weddings on reality television.")

It'd probably be funny if it was more thought-out and directed. All put together like that and pretty indiscriminate on which quotes get picked, it mainly looks like the author is an asshole.
posted by Baethan at 7:39 AM on May 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Stop pinning this stuff is the board of a friend of mine, and it's one of my favorite boards on Pinterest.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:41 AM on May 26, 2013 [23 favorites]


Aw, I used to be pedantic and snarky about people feeling good too, 17 was a fun age.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:41 AM on May 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


Jennifer Dziura, who does this, used to run a spelling bee at a bar in Brooklyn. I ran a competing spelling bee at another bar in Brooklyn. One time I wrote her and proposed the idea that we have a "champions league" of sorts where we got the winners from both bees and had a competition. She pooh poohed this idea and was kind of dismissive of me in general. I got the impression that she didn't want to do it out of some kind of branding idea or some such. Regardless. I'm obviously the kind of person who holds a grudge since I not only remember this, I'm still kind of put out by the whole thing.
posted by josher71 at 7:41 AM on May 26, 2013 [32 favorites]


IF YOU HAVE TIME TO FACEBOOK,
YOU CAN MAKE TIME TO WORKOUT.

You might even have time left over to do some stupid verbing.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:43 AM on May 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Unfunny and mean, I think.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:44 AM on May 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you're going to mock something as stupid, the mockery has to be smarter than the thing mocked. You get the sense that she doesn't object to pablum, just to the tone.

Here's her other board: Bullish Thoughts.
posted by postcommunism at 8:02 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, the sheeple need to hear this.
posted by mph at 8:05 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's just because I am the world's hugest grouch but I actually liked a lot of these. I think there's a lot of meaningless and unthoughtful buying-in to this type of ludicrous inanity and I hate when people spout inspirational BS without thinking about it*. A lot of the original quotes are really stupid and I think that deflating the ideas that "everything happens for a reason" and "you should be grateful for what you have instead of realizing that maybe you deserve more" and "you are a beautiful free spirit who never has to follow the rules" and whatever is worth doing. At the risk of sounding ridiculously melodramatic, banal pseudo-inspirational quotes are the opiate of the masses. I understand objecting to pointless snark and to tearing shit down for no reason but this doesn't feel like that to me, this feels like an (admittedly grumpy) attempt to get people to think about what they are (often mindlessly) repeating. I am pretty much always in favor of putting more thought into what we say and especially into cultural ideas we may propagate without thinking.

*For example, at my husband's graduation, the Salutatorian gave a speech about how bumblebees can't fly, which is a fairly standard inspirational idea, that physicists or whomever have studied bumblebees and determined that, based on aerodynamics and weight ratios or whatever, they are unable to fly, but no one told the bumblebees, so they fly anyway. The thing is, two minutes' thought demonstrates that this is CLEARLY UNTRUE because, in fact, BUMBLEBEES CAN FLY. This story can still be interesting and inspirational as far as I'm concerned because it demonstrates that even when we're pretty sure we've figured something out, actually we haven't, because maybe we thought we understood flight and then bumblebees came along and fucked up our theories, but whatever other inspiration we can garner from it, the fact remains that bumblebee flight is not the result of high self-esteem.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:09 AM on May 26, 2013 [71 favorites]


The universe is essentially indifferent to me, so I should:
(a) Find what comfort I can in myself and others, or
(b) Tear down other people doing (a) as much as possible
posted by anifinder at 8:12 AM on May 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Oh my god, I HATE the constant Facebook sharing of images that are comprised of nothing but "inspirational" text. Why not just type it, if you feel the need to share the insipidity? On Pinterest, you need an image, but it's oozed over to Facebook and makes me feel mean. I've considered making my own pretty images of sarcastic text, but I think people would start blocking me.
posted by houseofdanie at 8:12 AM on May 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


This is part grammar nazi, part privilege shaming, part feminist-ish, and one large part kneejerk assholery. I suppose the derisive statement about MetaFilter goes here but I also think there are better criticisms about MetaFilter to be found just like there are better criticisms about Pinterest that don't also involve unnecessary bitterness and wayward personal attacks. Pinterest isn't the perfect website and the culture there can be very privileged, materialist, and conservative by some measures but undirected and superficial insults aren't the catalyst for change. Some of her pins are just mean without reason except for her personal taste.

Sidenote: I did this a lot in high school under what I thought was an anonymous Xanga account. I didn't think I was directly criticizing anybody but in retrospect and with much regret, I realize that the person who took the time to create a blog, to write that post, to expose themselves would take those comments seriously, and that is the point in which it becomes my responsibility for handling the emotional fallout, not theirs for having 'invited it'. It's the kind of ethics that gets overlooked a lot when we talk about victim blaming and halloween costumes.
posted by dubusadus at 8:14 AM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If it's expressible as an aphorism, it's probably insipid and dumb.
posted by kengraham at 8:22 AM on May 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm soooo tired of all the inspirational quotes, often misspelled or just silly, made into images, all the fuck over facebook. And then there are the ones that are just mean and not at all clever. Like this one. Why does this need to be a giant image file? Why are you clicking share? Why is it funny?

Strangely this one bothers me less.
posted by bunderful at 8:28 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The universe is essentially indifferent to me, so I should:
(a) Find what comfort I can in myself and others, or
(b) Tear down other people doing (a) as much as possible


But (b) is, for many of us, our primary or only method of (a). Stop tearing us down!
posted by officer_fred at 8:30 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"IF YOU HAVE TIME TO WASTE THIS IS IT"
posted by Postroad at 8:31 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The universe is essentially indifferent to me, so I should:
(a) Find what comfort I can in myself and others, or
(b) Tear down other people doing (a) as much as possible


I couldn't disagree more with this characterization -- lazy aphorisms like those mocked in the fpp reduce life to a meaningless pap, and I completely disagree that these trite "inspirational" phrases come from a desire for comfort. Instead, they come from a desire to make the universe as bland and stupid as possible; and the only reasonable response from people who actually love life is merciless mockery.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:34 AM on May 26, 2013 [17 favorites]


If it's expressible as an aphorism, it's probably insipid and dumb.

I'm going to slap that text on an image of a sunset or rainbow and post it to Facebook.
posted by mazola at 8:40 AM on May 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


... and done!
posted by mazola at 8:42 AM on May 26, 2013 [39 favorites]


“If only it were all so simple! If only there were boring people somewhere insipidly committing humdrum deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and plebeian cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own drivel?”

- Leo Chekhov
posted by dubusadus at 8:44 AM on May 26, 2013 [32 favorites]


Also, I really like that she has a moral point to her snarking. For example, this is a good observation:
"'Living gently' is nice when you're talking about not using too many plastic bags. It is an inadequate guiding principle when faced with a world of injustice that demands a less than gentle response."
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:45 AM on May 26, 2013 [6 favorites]



... and done!


I lolled repeatedly!
posted by kengraham at 8:48 AM on May 26, 2013


“I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational. What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away. Obviously, you can think of it whatever you wish. But please don't dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital- T Truth is about being interesting before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness — awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: “This is pap, this is pap.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.”

- Bret Wallace Didion
posted by dubusadus at 8:49 AM on May 26, 2013


I liked a number of them. Pinterest is overburdened with puffed-up nonsense philosophies, and it's refreshing when someone sticks a pin in them. It's not just addressing the creator, but the many who mindlessly re-pin them. Plus, I love that the Internet allows me to indulge my mean side by laughing at these in the privacy of my own home, without actually laughing in anyone's face.
posted by theora55 at 8:49 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, mazola. Yours has apostrophes correctly applied. FAIL.
posted by houseofdanie at 8:51 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quote: Little girls with dreams become women with vision.
Response: I think a lot of them just end up planning really trashy weddings on reality television.

Typical asshole internet garbage.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:51 AM on May 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Bret Wallace Didion?
posted by bunderful at 8:58 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the "Bullish" blog, which I found linked from her "Bullish" board:

Every fucking one of them, despite dropping $100K+ on an Ivy League b-school, said something like, “I’d love to start my own business someday. But that’s a big move. It’s so scary!”

Honestly, all I can think at times like this is, “Dumb bitches.”



Um, wow.
posted by houseofdanie at 8:59 AM on May 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


josher71: "One time I wrote her and proposed the idea that we have a "champions league" of sorts where we got the winners from both bees and had a competition. She pooh poohed this idea and was kind of dismissive of me in general. I got the impression that she didn't want to do it out of some kind of branding idea or some such."

Considering how mean and uninspired her snarky responses are, I'd say you dodged a bullet.
posted by mkultra at 9:00 AM on May 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


If it's expressible as an aphorism, it's probably insipid and dumb.

Best aphorism ever!
posted by vorpal bunny at 9:01 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


... and done!
posted by mazola at 11:42 AM on May 26 [+] [!]


I pinned it.

The pin that drives me craziest is this one, because it leads to a science observation about gases, but has nothing really to do with replacing helium in balloons. It's not inspirational in itself, but it gives perspective on what else is getting pinned.
posted by bilabial at 9:03 AM on May 26, 2013


One of the things I figured out a long time ago in internet years was that part of the persona I projected on the internet could be positive or negative: that I could be the sort of person who overall builds up (myself and others) or drags down.

Yes, a lot of quotes in the internet are stupid or insipid. No, I don't want stupid or insipid (to me, anyhow) quotes on my board, nor do I want ones that I know are wrong (misquoted/misattributed/etc.). Sometimes I see "inspirational" things and want to debunk them as a one-off. But this particular board is a mean "drag down" project. It's not something I'd want to invest my limited energy on over any period of time.
posted by immlass at 9:04 AM on May 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


josher71, a friend of mine was her assistant during that spelling bee thing. From the stories she told on her livejournal about working with this lady, I'd say you definitely dodged a bullet.
posted by palomar at 9:10 AM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yours has apostrophes correctly applied. FAIL.

Your's Is No Disgrace
posted by mintcake! at 9:15 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I dunno. I agree that she goes way over the top with some of her mean. But some of it hits the nail on the head, and sticks in a pin in the bubble that is our culture.
posted by bunderful at 9:17 AM on May 26, 2013


Bret Wallace Didion?

Yup, s/he wrote a bunch of memoirs and novels about how it was crucial in life to be absolutely fascinating. A recurring theme is that the one major problem in the world is banality and once banality was censored and extinguished by way of being complete assholes to all the right people, only then would we finally move forward and conquer this new age of captivating absorption. You may have heard of Mark Vonnekurt Twaingut with his form of secular fascinatingism, a very important and sacred value that underpins many of the themes of Bret Wallace Didion. All of these authors share a literary hobbyist tradition with Leo Chekhov, famed playwright and novelist during an era when the USSR was instituting pogroms of apathy and disinterestedness. True devils, the USSR.
posted by dubusadus at 9:20 AM on May 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

...I always hated that one. Yeah, so what?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:27 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Be as skeptical as you must but there will always be an "if" in the very heart of life



unless you're speaking French or some other dying language
posted by philip-random at 9:37 AM on May 26, 2013


the fact remains that bumblebee flight is not the result of high self-esteem.

Bumblebees fly to outrun their self-loathing.
posted by zippy at 9:39 AM on May 26, 2013 [39 favorites]


I didn't see my own catchphrase in there. As a result of dealing with customers over the phone, I have found that: "Everybody lies about everything, all the time."
posted by Repack Rider at 9:41 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I say let her keep trying with her little "Demotivators" pin board.

Like they say. Persistence is a prerequisite to giving up.
posted by surplus at 9:42 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Today
is the Tomorrow
you worried about Yesterday.

Now you know why.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:42 AM on May 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Skeptics -- mocking believers? Whatever will the internet think up next?
posted by Infinity_8 at 9:51 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


"If you have content to display on your website that someone might want to read through because it's funny, arrange it in a list instead of an irregular grid."
- Anonymous
posted by chasing at 9:52 AM on May 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


If you dislike the snark because it's snark, you must also dislike comedy that holds up a funhouse mirror to life in general. Which makes you a humorless dolt. You're probably also incapable of doing anything half as funny as this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:58 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"If you have content to display on your website that someone might want to read through because it's funny, arrange it in a list instead of an irregular grid."
- Anonymous


Pinterest gives users essentially no control over how their content is displayed. She's got no choice but to display it that way.
posted by asnider at 9:59 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


All of this outrage is misplaced as long as cookie-dough hummus is still a thing that people are allegedly making.
posted by wreckingball at 10:00 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


cookie-dough hummus

what

the fuck
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:03 AM on May 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


I've considered making my own pretty images of sarcastic text, but I think people would start blocking me.

And the downside is...?
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:03 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I went in looking for some Morgan Freeman, and came away unsatisfied.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:09 AM on May 26, 2013


It's possible I'm getting soft at the old age of 25, but this just looks bitter and pointlessly snarky to me. Maybe if she were selecting only the most inane images/quotes (like the almost-naked boxer lady), but to me this appears to be something that started as a cute idea and then she just began greedily consuming anything that looked remotely mockable. I fail to be all that enraged/annoyed by people getting inspired by aphorisms about being yourself and cultivating gratitude. I mean, honestly. Of all the things to get upset and bitter about, is cheap inspiration really near the top of the list?

I don't know, maybe I'm getting tired of uncharitable Cool Kids in my mid-twenties.
posted by aintthattheway at 10:15 AM on May 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am a total curmudgeon when it comes to all that inspirational drivel on FB and some of these gave me a good laugh. Those FB posts drive me particularly nuts when it becomes clear that what people consider inspirational is serving as proof that they suffer from common cognitive distortions. One of the more frequent ones is "I feel a certain way, therefore what I feel must be true". Some of that shit is utterly void of all rational thought.
posted by PuppyCat at 10:15 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm facebook friends with a few recent moms, and this one keeps popping up on my feed. I think all of these little inspirational quote pics are stupid, but this one just reads as really gross to me and every time I see it I involuntarily make the just-smelled-poop face.
posted by phunniemee at 10:20 AM on May 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


I actually don't care how shit, not shit, funny or not funny these are; I am just happy that someone is applying some critical thinking to the faddish, infantalising bullshit being passed around between young women (and grow-assed women) on Facebook etc.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:23 AM on May 26, 2013 [23 favorites]


I love this every bit as hard as I loathe "inspirational" quotations.

despair.com still exists too. Thank heavens.
posted by Decani at 10:34 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some of the snark is sub-par but she's generally not wrong. And some of those inspirational posters are downright toxic. That thinspiration shit especially needs to be engulfed in flames.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:35 AM on May 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I fail to be all that enraged/annoyed by people getting inspired by aphorisms about being yourself and cultivating gratitude.

What really irks me about these it that because they aren't going in one's diary or on one's desk but rather are being expressed in a public-facing way (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.), they're not just reminders to oneself to cultivate gratitude but finger-wagging directives to others to be positive all the time, that everything is about attitude, etc. regardless of what shit other people are going through that the poster has no clue about. It seems incredibly smug and dismissive of others' sorrows and struggles.
posted by naoko at 10:35 AM on May 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


Most of these could easily be refuted by having a JUST WORLD FALLACY transparency stamped over each image. Nobody lies more desperately than when they lie to someone else about a thing they fear is not true.
posted by adipocere at 10:37 AM on May 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


I fail to be all that enraged/annoyed by people getting inspired by aphorisms about being yourself and cultivating gratitude.

Firstly, many of these annoying bloody things are not about that at all. Secondly, this misses the point about why we get annoyed.
posted by Decani at 10:38 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Right target, poor aim. Too bad.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:45 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow...that really turned my frown upside down.

Oh wait, actually I just used a bunch of different muscles.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:52 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Agree with naoko. And part of the problem with these inspirational photo thingies is that they're posted publicly -- no one would ever walk up to their unemployed friend and say, "Isn't it great how life always gives you exactly what you need? Time for some gratitude!"

Anyway, I'm not 100% sold on this board (that reality brides comment was crappy) but it's kind of gratifying in the way it always is when someone says, out loud, something that I think but don't say myself. (Because I am not in the habit of responding to friends' cheerful facebook posts with THAT IS TOTALLY NOT TRUE THE WORLD IS HORRIBLY UNJUST WAKE UP AND SMELL THE FECES PEOPLE.)
posted by gerstle at 10:55 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sometimes you are the man from Nantucket.
posted by humanfont at 10:56 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


What really irks me about these it that because they aren't going in one's diary or on one's desk but rather are being expressed in a public-facing way (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.), they're not just reminders to oneself to cultivate gratitude but finger-wagging directives to others to be positive all the time, that everything is about attitude, etc. regardless of what shit other people are going through that the poster has no clue about. It seems incredibly smug and dismissive of others' sorrows and struggles.

That's a good point, although it's hard to imagine people having anything but good intentions when they post something like "Little girls with dreams become women with vision" or "[Something something gratitude can change everything]" -- when I see people post these things, they usually seem to reflect the person's circumstances: girls after a break-up sharing "he's not worth it"-y things, people entrenched in hard times sharing "always darkest before the dawn"-ish things. It's a little self-involved but doesn't seem intentionally lecture-y. Maybe that's just what I've seen.

In any case, maybe it's the attitude of this particular project? Which seems far more smug to me than posting inspirational quotes.
posted by aintthattheway at 11:00 AM on May 26, 2013


Good intentions are meaningless. What matters is the impact. Intentions are at most an influence on how you might feel about a person, but if they're doing something harmful, that they meant well doesn't make what they did okay.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:02 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


50 Cent would make a terrible president!

Many of these deserve to be mocked and I like it in principle. Imagine all of the CO2 emissions and energy waste directly associated with stupid picture platitudes. I've actually made a few of my own mocking the "if you write words in a picture it's profounder LoL" and didn't realize it was a Pinterest thing.
posted by lordaych at 11:04 AM on May 26, 2013


girls after a break-up sharing "he's not worth it"-y things

I'd happily defriend anybody trying to cheer me up with an inspirational quote. And if said inspirational quote was misspelled I'd probably b*tchslap them first.

In other words, I think the linked Pinterest board is hilarious and I'd love to see more. In the unlikely event of a break-up, it'd cheer me up quicker than anything else (including pictures of flowers captioned with Oprah quotes).
posted by kariebookish at 11:05 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing this is mocking reminds me of Zen Pencils. I couldn't say exactly why, though.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:08 AM on May 26, 2013


With depression on the increase in the western world, I think positive thinking is probably not an entirely bad thing, even if it's incorrect positive thinking. When I see some of these things on social media, I just shrug my shoulders and move on.
posted by walrus at 11:20 AM on May 26, 2013


Sing like no one's listening, dance like nobody's watching, be institutionalized for Huntington's chorea and Tourette's.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:20 AM on May 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


I don't know, maybe I'm getting tired of uncharitable Cool Kids in my mid-twenties.

I dunno, I'm only a year older than you and I'm inclined to agree. I'm not sure how making snarky take-downs of other people's aphorisms is supposed to either make the world a better place or stop the practice of posting aphorisms anywhere. It just seems like a way to be publicly bitter so that other publicly bitter people can commiserate with you.

I mean, why not just walk outside with a needle and pop children's balloon animals to teach them that life is unfair and arbitrary?
posted by Noms_Tiem at 11:37 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd happily defriend anybody trying to cheer me up with an inspirational quote.

I understand why these are irritating to people, but I wouldn't take it as anything more than banal navel-gazing. Everything about social media is public, and a lot of it revolves around aphorisms even without sharing image macros. ("Johnny took his first steps today! Life is short, remember to cherish the small moments." "Brad remembered I like chocolate powder on my coffee, it's so important to be grateful for the little things.") In fact, a lot of personal conversations revolve around these aphorisms.

The reason I find her approach obnoxious is that the people sharing these things often need and could even benefit from them. Are they dumb platitudes? Yeah. Are they still useful? Sometimes, yeah. Could they be better written in journals rather than shared on social media? Yeah, but it's 2013, and people aren't writing in journals as much anymore.

If someone is sending them directly to you, or you suspect someone is trying to target you smugly with the quotes they share, I agree it's annoying and agree you should defriend them. But all I see is a lot of people comforting themselves and trying to get through things or keep a positive attitude with the help of platitudes. I say all this as someone regularly annoyed by these macros, because they often do seem simplistic--but I see them as helping whoever is posting them. As was mentioned above, her approach is based in tearing down but it doesn't really leave anything positive; it just makes you feel kind of depressed and bitter.

Then again, I should probably note that some of these rightly deserve a spot on her board, including any of the thinspiration crap that undergirds and fuels some dark things. I guess I'd just be more discerning about what is harmful, and perhaps I disagree with some people about what is harmful.
posted by aintthattheway at 11:38 AM on May 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


As far the quips in the OP link – which I don't think is extremely good, or extremely bad – I'm pretty sure most of them would get, like, 40 favorites or so if they appeared individually in a similar context on Metafilter.

Often I'd find the contrariness really annoying but I am feeling super chill at the moment.
posted by furiousthought at 11:50 AM on May 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've considered making my own pretty images of sarcastic text, but I think people would start blocking me.

I've considered that if my facebook friends want to block me I really don't care.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:54 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are a lot of people who rebut pins like this, and honestly, this is one of the weaker examples I've seen.

There are worse things than glurgy inspirational quotes on Pinterest.

There are glurgy inspirational quotes that people attribute to 'weighty' names, just to add a little gravitas, I guess. "Boys have swagger. Men have class. - Abraham Lincoln."

There is rampant internalized misogyny and gender policing. It is not at all uncommon for people to have entire Pinterest boards called "Sluts," consisting entirely of someecards calling women sluts in variously creative ways.

There are urban legends, made up trivia, science projects that don't work and aren't science, racism, classism, and a million other things I can think of that need rebutting more than silly inspirational quotes, no matter how superficial and naive.

Do a few searches on some social justicey terms (appropriation, misogyny, things like that), and you'll probably find a whole lot of boards addressing the problems with Pinterest.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:55 AM on May 26, 2013 [5 favorites]





There are glurgy inspirational quotes that people attribute to 'weighty' names, just to add a little gravitas, I guess. "Boys have swagger. Men have class. - Abraham Lincoln."


Like this right?
posted by louche mustachio at 11:59 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


In any case, maybe it's the attitude of this particular project? Which seems far more smug to me than posting inspirational quotes.

That's probably because we're used to the inspirational quotes. It's hard to be be more smug than that one about "everything that happens for a reason." The intent is literally that the universe and other people exist only as side characters in the story of a select few. Anyway, I'm on board with the idea that this was a mixed bag, humor wise, but I honestly don't think it's any worse than the implications of some of those quotes, it's just more open about it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:01 PM on May 26, 2013


I used to use Pinterest quite a bit for both practical and frivolous things. To balance out the boards full of the fanciest diamond rings, the most perfect outfits, and the most elaborate cake everrrrr, I started a board called "Just Kind of Average." Tepid water. Socks available in beige or grey. A brown couch. Flan from a box. And yes, a couple of inspirational quotes on nature backgrounds.

One thing I'd pinned in jest, an outfit that consisted of a pair of jeans, a grey t-shirt, and some sneakers, got repinned 20 times right after I put it there. But the caption was changed to things like, "Perfect weekend outfit!" and "A must-wear!" I was baffled (people need to be reminded to wear jeans?) but I started to feel really bad about my snark. I haven't posted to that board in about a year and a half.

There's nothing like sincerity to take the wind out of my snarky sails. However, when these things get repinned and reposted (like on Facebook) over and over again without further comment, I tend to not see them as sincere at all. I get this mental image of robotic clicking and clicking and clicking, just flooding my Facebook feed with meaningless NOTHING through which it's difficult to see actual updates and the like.
posted by houseofdanie at 12:13 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


You may have heard of Mark Vonnekurt Twaingut with his form of secular fascinatingism, a very important and sacred value that underpins many of the themes of Bret Wallace Didion.

Fascinating - you have convinced me to explore the works of Bret Wallace Didion, as soon as I finish this book by Rudyard Hosseini Fitzgerald.
posted by bunderful at 12:15 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah despite about 5% of these snarks pointing out actually problematic things in their targets, the rest are a festival of mean-spiritedness, arrogance, and nit-picking.
posted by edheil at 12:22 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


So when women troll on pinterest is it still considered trolling?
posted by hellslinger at 12:27 PM on May 26, 2013


being expressed in a public-facing way (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.)

Not everybody uses Pinboard as a social network despite its social features. I subscribe to some friends and e-quaintances I find interesting, but I pin for myself as a form of visual bookmarking. As always, if it's on the internet, anyone can find and criticize, but sometimes what other people put on the internet isn't all about communicating with others/everybody.

Yeah despite about 5% of these snarks pointing out actually problematic things in their targets, the rest are a festival of mean-spiritedness, arrogance, and nit-picking.

Yeah, I think that's what got me about it. $DEITY knows there are a lot of problematic things in a lot of inspirational quotes (economic and class privilege, I'm looking at you, not that Pinterest in and of itself isn't frequently consumer porn of all sorts, designed to make people want to spend money) but the snark here was weak and off the mark.
posted by immlass at 12:32 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


FUCK THAT. DON'T BE THE GIRL WHO NEEDS A MAN. BE THE GIRL A MAN NEEDS.

Wait, where's the part where you become a grown-ass woman?

What if she doesn't want to be an ass woman?
posted by JHarris at 12:33 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, self-identified skeptics haven't let me down. If I need a dose of negativity and snark, I know where I need to go.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:43 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do a few searches on some social justicey terms (appropriation, misogyny, things like that), and you'll probably find a whole lot of boards addressing the problems with Pinterest.

How about I let you carry on with that, and I'll go out and play pinball.
posted by MrBadExample at 12:49 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


i took mazola's image and posted it on instagram with a sunset filter.

"beitful"

S^YDSYI&
posted by raihan_ at 12:57 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


ass woman

There's a superhero who'd find it difficult to get a gig with The Avengers.
posted by Grangousier at 12:58 PM on May 26, 2013


Can a MeFi mod just delete what I say without even telling me they did? 'Cause earlier, I said words to the effect of...

Here are some more inspirational quotes:

"The only people who enjoy watching you correct other people's grammar are other people who like to correct other people's grammar. Everyone else thinks you're a snob or a bore."

"Sometimes pictures of scantily clad women with conventionally beautiful physiques aren't an affront to feminism. Sometimes these pictures are just hot. Sometimes they're even arousing and that's OK."

And I posted it. And it went up. And then it went away and nobody told me why. Confusing.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 2:38 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Contact form, Meanwhile. And yes.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:51 PM on May 26, 2013


Rudyard Hosseini Fitzgerald

one of these things is not like the others!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:00 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here is some text set In a handsome font against a lovely photograph of a sunset, because apparently, this is how we now communicate with one another here in the 21st century.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:03 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch: And I posted it. And it went up. And then it went away and nobody told me why. Confusing.

Probably because some users flagged it, the mods saw the flags, agreed with them, and deleted it.

From the FAQ: Why was my MetaFilter comment deleted?
posted by tzikeh at 3:04 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


How about I let you carry on with that, and I'll go out and play pinball.

OK. Seems like an odd thing to have to disclaim, but let me modify that.

If you are interested in seeing more substantive critiques, do a few searches on some social justicey terms (appropriation, misogyny, things like that), and you'll probably find a whole lot of boards addressing the problems with Pinterest.

If you are not interested in that sort of thing, make a public notification of your request, and I will consider issuing you a one-time exemption.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:07 PM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know, I'm liking all this new art. I think MetaFilter needs a new section for inspirational texts. We'll have the blue, the green, the grey... and the sunset.
posted by houseofdanie at 3:16 PM on May 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think MetaFilter needs a new section for inspirational texts. We'll have the blue, the green, the grey... and the sunset.

I'd prefer white-on-white for inspirational texts, or black-on-black. Either would satisfy.
posted by philip-random at 4:02 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you dislike the snark because it's snark, you must also dislike comedy that holds up a funhouse mirror to life in general. Which makes you a humorless dolt. You're probably also incapable of doing anything half as funny as this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:58 PM on May 26 [1 favorite +] [!]


Hardly; I think snark can be hilarious, but this whole board is at the calibre of the office sourpuss responding to "Good Morning!" with "What's so good about it?", only with the implication that such a pithy quip is not only the height of humor, but a poignant deconstruction of the status quo. "Who AM I to tell someone to have a good morning? And what defines a 'good' morning anyway? Thanks, bitter malcontent!"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:47 PM on May 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've always thought of inspirational image macros as the Hallmark cards of the internet age.

My mother is a big fan of greeting cards and will spend half an hour looking at all the cards in card aisle at the grocery store, choosing the one that comes the closest to whatever she wants to say. She usually doesn't add a note or anything to the card, but just signs her name. My daughter and I get one for almost every occasion, including minor holidays.

This drives me a little crazy because I don't understand the point of sending someone a card and only signing your name, as if you are the author of whatever two sentences appear on the card. If I have an occasion to send someone a card, I choose a perfectly pretty, inexpensive blank card and write a few paragraphs. Even if I am presented with an office birthday card I write a few sentences with as much sincerity as I can muster or I draw a little picture. Of course, my volume does not approach my mother's.

So, the process of getting cards from my mom and me almost immediately throwing them away after rolling my eyes at them continued until a year or two ago. My mom and I almost never email one another and talk on the phone instead, but for some reason I decided to respond to an inane email forward she had sent me. (Email forwards are the inspirational image macros and greeting cards of the text-based online world) The response I got was not very grammatical and did a poor job of arguing her case.

And I had an epiphany about my mother. Growing up, I always saw her reading classic books like Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Pride and Prejudice, books that always seemed big and important. Plus, I always recalled her correcting my grammar. But she never went to college and was a part of a big, poor family that kept her from really shining in school. After going away to college I came home to realize that her grammar, while good for our Southern town, was far from perfect. She read her big books to make up for some of the education that she missed out on.

I realized that my mom really struggles to express herself in writing, especially when it comes to anything she feels.

On the other hand, she sent me to a big, fancy university where I enjoyed a classical education alongside my engineering classes.

So, when I see someone admonish me to "Dance like no one is watching" in my Facebook feed I think about how hard it is for most people, even smart ones, to express themselves. The image macros are a shortcut to "I want to say nice things and this fits how I'm feeling." And sure, they're easier than coming up with an original thought, but sometimes there is a greeting card that says whatever you're trying to say in a better way that you can on your own. Plus, it has a picture of a rainbow or a baby. Fortunately, image macros do not cost $2.99.
posted by Alison at 6:51 PM on May 26, 2013 [47 favorites]


If you are interested in seeing more substantive critiques, do a few searches on some social justicey terms (appropriation, misogyny, things like that), and you'll probably find a whole lot of boards addressing the problems with Pinterest.

I am interested and I did a search on "misogyny" and found some pretty good things, including this.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:06 PM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


All of this outrage is misplaced as long as cookie-dough hummus is still a thing that people are allegedly making.

Cookie Dough Hummus (no-bake, vegan,gluten-free)

WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
ಠ_ಠ
posted by MikeKD at 7:21 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, I used to be pedantic and snarky about people feeling good too, 17 was a fun age.

I hate these inspirational quotes, but the snark here is pretty weak.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:29 PM on May 26, 2013


I think I've reached some kind of nirvana-of-curmudgeonliness, as I realized I despise the inspirational quotes and the mocking of the inspirational quotes equally.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:04 PM on May 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


All inspirational quotes should end in "and the horse you rode in on." Or "in bed."

"I am thankful to all those who said NO to me. It's because of them I did it myself. In bed."

"Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher, and the horse you rode in on."1


See? Much better.


1 This one, of course, could go either way.
posted by taz at 1:00 AM on May 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Sorry. I understand how the cutesy shit can get too saccharin, but really. I have a gun lover on my friends. What's a few silly aphorisms amongst friends?
posted by Goofyy at 5:53 AM on May 27, 2013


What really irks me about these it that because they aren't going in one's diary or on one's desk but rather are being expressed in a public-facing way (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.), they're not just reminders to oneself to cultivate gratitude but finger-wagging directives to others to be positive all the time, that everything is about attitude, etc. regardless of what shit other people are going through that the poster has no clue about. It seems incredibly smug and dismissive of others' sorrows and struggles.

Leaving aside the fact that some of these irritating aphorisms are actively ignorant/hurtful in the whole "espouses a worldview that dismisses or belittles whole swathes of people" sense, because that is a whole other barrel of monkeyfish, what you and other posters here fail to acknowledge is that Facebook and Pinterest posts aren't the same as emails sent directly to your inbox. They're "ambient communications" which are passed to a general public space for other people to acknowledge or ignore as they see fit. (Email spammers are using email for this purpose rather than for direct communications, in fact, which is why my grandfather simultaneously doesn't answer emails actually intended for him while maintaining an inbox that looks like a Tumblr graveyard.)

I'm not saying this because I ENJOY this sort of shit, mind you. I am highly curmudgeonly and hate Facebook posts far more interesting than this level of maudlin nonsense. People sharing music and poems and YouTube clips and political news and really just about ANYTHING piss me off, which is why I hide literally every one of my Facebook friends from my newsfeed. People have bad taste in general, even when they're catering their content specifically to me, and when they're not even considering my feelings the likeliness is that whatever they post will both bore me and piss me off. I also hate Facebook profile pictures because I hate looking at faces and images against my will. Hopefully this establishes my credentials as somebody who majorly hates just about everything, and thus who ought to be the target of insipid Pinterest criticism boards like this one.

But what I acknowledge is that as much as I may hate anything and everything that anybody posts online, they will hate however I consider to be a valid means of communication as well. When I write long introspective narcissessays, they get ignored, because who has time to read that nonsense? If I share a favorite philosopher or aesthetic critic's most inspired passage, people probably not only don't give a shit about the particular idea thus contained, they probably don't give a shit about the entire field of study who that intellectual dabbles in. I know people feel this way because I feel the same way back when somebody posts a lengthy essay on medieval history or quantum physics or Doctor Who. And I know I shouldn't feel this way, that perhaps in a perfect world I'd even use these Facebook posts as a way to learn more about subjects I'm completely clueless about, but I don't, because nobody does.

And that's because the whole purpose of an ambient communicative space is to test and retest connections between people whose connections to one another are loose. Of the five thousand people you friend on Facebook, perhaps fifty (or five) people say things in a way you like, talk about things you're interested in, think about the world on the same wavelength as you do. And those people are rarely who you'd expect. The people Facebook has brought me closer to are not at all the people who I'd expect to form my core group of friends. They're an unpredictable and motley crew, and while I like them all very much (which frustratingly prevents me from closing my Facebook account) I can't really predict who I end up feeling close or connected to. It would be hard for me to even articulate why I'm drawn to the people I am, about as hard as it would be for me to explain who I am as a person or how people perceive me. I could come up with an explanation, that is, which is not entirely WRONG, but I couldn't easily come up with one that is more than a fraction of the RIGHT answer either.

When people post inspirational slush, they're not aiming to lecture all their friends about what is good and what is bad or whatever. They're trying to maybe spread a nice thought to people who appreciate nice thoughts, wake up to a fuzzy haze of other nice thoughts posted by nice people, and then go about their actual day. It's not a super deep use of the Internet, but it doesn't have to be, because most people who use Facebook don't live their lives on it the way people who have the patience to start snarky jackass Pinterest boards do. They're looking for shallower connections and that's completely okay.

Again, what I take beef with is the notion that shallower or triter posts are somehow less valuable than more "interesting" or "relevant" posts would be. I have friends who graduated up from inspirational posters to sharing Carly Rae Jepson songs and squealing about how she speaks Truth, and I don't see any real improvement there. If anything, I hate them even more now. And I have friends who quote Kierkegaard at length and get into long discussions about philosophical nuances which I consider to be entirely trivial, and that annoys me too. The value of a communicative post is entirely contextual, and nobody fully understands the contexts of their own posts because hundreds of people will be reading every little thing you share. The solution is either to avoid publishing anything to such a space, or to publish whatever you want and remove the people who aren't publishing the things you like from any kind of close contact with you.

My friends and I tend to speak (on Facebook anyway) through various Breaking Bad and Pokemon-related image macros. We quote lines from Heavy Rain and Internet rappers. It is all very clever and hilarious to us, yet I'm sure that to anybody not familiar with all the touchstones we are it comes off as irritating and too-cutesy. One friend and I tag each other in Kate Beaton comics. Another friend and I occasionally do weeks where we write nonsense things in all capital letters and tag each other in every post, sort of a call-and-response trolling. I could be idiotic and argue that these exchanges are more meaningful than if we shared feel-good quotes attached to stupid-looking posters, but they're not. So I try not to judge other people for what they share publicly either, because nobody who does anything in public comes out wholly looking good. The best I can be is the person who doesn't try to resent other people for who they appear to be, unless they're doing something which actively hurts others—and the stuff on this Pinterest board largely doesn't pass muster.

There is an interesting discussion to be held about whether individual systems for communication have values of their own, like whether Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Tumblr is better at facilitating really neat and productive and informative and what-have-you conversations. Many MetaFilter users, for instance, feel that MeFi is a more interesting site than Facebook is, and I think that it has to do in part with the nature of how discussions here work. That's a more fruitful conversation than criticizing specific people for how they use a medium—I might be bothered by how my grandfather uses email, but he gets what he wants out of it, and would probably find my beautiful Inbox Zero to be near-totally pointless. What I can do is ask HOW people are using a service, and ask whether there's a better way for them to do what they're trying to do. Even as I write this I'm envisioning a social network centered around the exchanging of pointless aphorisms, and asking myself what social value such a network might generate if built the right way.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:58 AM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]






what you and other posters here fail to acknowledge is that Facebook and Pinterest posts aren't the same as emails sent directly to your inbox. They're "ambient communications" which are passed to a general public space for other people to acknowledge or ignore as they see fit.

So, like pop songs, the stuff you come across in public spaces, or maybe a car radio. The ones I like, I like ... unless I see/hear them too often. The ones I don't like, and that's the vast majority (because they're generally so trite, half-formed, pandering) -- I really don't like them. They're stealing small chunks of my life from me, which I'll never get back.

Which makes the Pinterest grammar nazi-ing a particularly apt form of critique, as it speaks volumes to the failure of the posted quote. If you're noticing a misplaced semi-colon, the whole is already less the sum of its parts.
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on May 27, 2013


I don't care about the glurge. Eyeroll and move on. I'm more affected by the bad spelling, bad grammar, bad punctuation, bad line breaks, and bad typography that most of them have. It's ten words on a large graphic. Would it kill you to take some time making sure they're right?
posted by bink at 9:41 AM on May 27, 2013


The ones I don't like, and that's the vast majority (because they're generally so trite, half-formed, pandering) -- I really don't like them. They're stealing small chunks of my life from me, which I'll never get back.

That's a reason to avoid the space where you're forced to hear them, tbh. I left Tumblr when the content turned too inane, and I've been working on a Facebook pseudo-client so that I can get to the things I like on Facebook without dealing with the crappy stuff.

If the "content for the masses" strikes you as too trite, then avoid the masses. Just like foodies probably shudder at the generic grocery store I go to. There's a reason the lowest common denominator is what it is, and most people stick to the lowest common denominator for most things.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:50 AM on May 27, 2013



That's a reason to avoid the space where you're forced to hear them, tbh. I left Tumblr when the content turned too inane, and I've been working on a Facebook pseudo-client so that I can get to the things I like on Facebook without dealing with the crappy stuff.


Sounds to me like you've chosen to surrender The Commons. I still think they're worth a fight.
posted by philip-random at 11:53 AM on May 27, 2013


They're stealing small chunks of my life from me, which I'll never get back.

Look at it this way, phil, you were never going to get those small chunks of your life back, anyway.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:34 PM on May 27, 2013


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