The Obsession of Wishing

Article written by: Yuris Kim


If it was store catalogs a decade ago, today it is “Pinterest”. American Pinterest users spend an average of 1 hour and 17 minutes on the site, which is more than the average time span users spend on Twitter (36 minutes), LinkedIn (17 minutes), and Google+ (6 minutes). Unique visitors to Pinterest increased by 429% between September and December of 2011. Recently, Pinterest has become the most impactful “pinboard-style social photo sharing website” according to the Wikipedia definition. It’s where all photos are beautiful and ideal, just like people fantasize their future to be. Once people get addicted to sharing, looking, and “pinning” the images on this website, the act becomes nothing short of an idolatry – an obsession of wishing.

Idolizing a picture on the wall isn’t an idea too irrelevant to everyone who might be reading this. It’s not just the Catholics with their shrines or Communists with portraits of their leader. Americans back in the 90s from the age of 5 to possibly 40s already had mastered cutting up images from various store catalogs and compiling them to produce a whole board of them. They wouldn’t need the promise of physically acquiring them in their lifetime to continue making collages. They already had everything they wanted right there, in front of them, on the board. And of course, it has been continuing until today, and people haven’t stopped collecting and compiling images of things to wear, see, and even for their nonexistent wedding.

“My dad would get me a catalog from Toys “R” Us every Christmas and I would circle all the toys I liked. I did that from the age of like 5 to 10 I think.” This girl is now a 21-year-old woman, and still smiling widely, she admits that she never got any of the toys that she circled – that simply wasn’t the point. So before going into Pinterest, there are a lot more catalogs to list, where people from more than a decade ago would attack with a pair of scissors: GL (Girl’s Life), Word Up, Sears, Macy’s etc. Another friend of mine confesses right after that she had posters of B2K that she would stare at and fantasize about every night. If not the bedroom wall, the cut-outs would end up glued onto binders and notebooks. Some of us who were born in the 90s might still have them, and they would be nothing less than an icon of our past idols. Now, most of this group of people probably have a Pinterest account today, which is essentially another pair of scissors.

Toys “R” Us catalog from 1995

The difference between catalogs and Pinterest – other than paper versus online – is that with Pinterest, there is no last page. [last sentence?]

1 Pinterest board zoomed out – still no end to be seen.

There is no end. Even one board takes an hour to scroll to the bottom, and there is an endless number of boards. Anything one could think of is there: Exotic places, wedding, fashion, food, restaurants, crafts, design, celebrities, furniture, and more. The infinite number of options of the possible and the unobtainable is fanning the flame; at least back in the day, people had to wait until the next season for a new catalog, and in my friend’s case, until next Christmas. People at least had to go buy a new one or stop for a while. Today, one can literally scroll through numerous boards all day every day, and this only makes people’s unquenchable desire worse. Or better. Pinterest is chocolate is to a chocoholic and alcohol is to an alcoholic. It doesn’t hurt anyone because Pinterest users’ “pinning” spree usually stops at that. Most of them aren’t pinning to go make or purchase the materials tomorrow. Just like the cut-outs from Toys “R” Us catalog, the point is to collect the images full of wishes and dreams, and the pure joy comes from the fact that they possess these images on their board somewhere. It’s the possibility they hold onto.

This phenomena of just endlessly collecting isn’t ending the world because of the nature of all these things – they are unnecessary. All the Pinterest users know every single thing they pin aren’t things they need, as people who made collages out of catalog images also did. We don’t put a pack of toilet paper that we need tonight into a cart and happily walk out of the store without having purchased it. Anything people absolutely need, they won’t go on Pinterest to find it.

So people will collect images of things they want or wish for or just want to look at, forever. They don’t necessarily have to have the money and they don’t have to pressure someone else to purchase them. They are OK with the fact that they probably won’t ever personally see the most romantic beach on a secluded island or get to wear that 3,000 dollars worth of dress with an intricate embroidery. The obsession and pure joy are in the act of wishing itself. And the comfort and gratification is in the act of collecting – and knowing there is no end to reach.

Pinterest boards

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