Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Art of Browsing

The New York Times Magazine article from 20 July "Pinterest, Tumblr and the Trouble With ‘Curation’" makes me feel like someone just dissected and psychoanalised my favourite little pet past-time, which is exactly what they did.  I feel vulnerable and a little put-off.  The article discusses websites, tumblrs, blogs, and Pinterest and the internet theme of presenting images next to one another on a website without many words.  I go to plenty of websites like this, my favourites being The Sartorialist, Garance Dore (she has more words), Pinterest, Jak and Jil and occasionally Musings in Femininity (tumblr), The Glitter Guide, and A Well Travelled Woman (tumblr).  The article asks the question: Why do I (and millions of others like me) love these websites?  Frankly, I'd rather they leave us alone to our nice little diversions.

Is Pinterest and blogging (the type of blogging that I normally do, posting pictures of things that I think are pretty or interesting) curation?  Curation meaning, by my definition, carefully selecting things in order to create a message or impact when they are all together.  The article seems to say, 'Maybe but probably not.': "
“Curation” does imply something far more deliberate than these inspiration blogs, whose very point is to put the viewer into an aesthetic reverie unencumbered by thought or analysis. These sites are not meant (as curation is) to make us more conscious, but less so. "  
It's true.  When I see each picture, I have a jolt of creative input (which feels good and stimulating) and I judge it (which feels like I am accomplishing something, putting the universe in order).  I also want to make for myself a personal "catalogue of curiosities" (hence the motto for this blog) so that I can go back and find the things that were pleasing to me in order to connect them to other ideas or to act upon them in some way.  She continues...

"That might be O.K., but it also means they have a lot more in common with advertising than they do with curation. After all, advertising trains us to keep our desire always at the ready, nurturing that feeling that something is missing, then redirecting it toward a tangible product. In the end, all that pent-up yearning needs a place to go, and now it has that place online. But products are no longer the point. The feeling is the point. And now we can create that feeling for ourselves, then pass it around like a photo album of the life we think we were meant to have but don’t, the people we think we should be but aren’t."
I feel very pinned to the wall with this one.  It reminds me of some notes I took at a youth group weekend away.  The speaker said something about training our "wanters" to want things that are good things (Christ) not bad things (pride/sin).  It seems as though our wanters are so highly stimulated that when we are not being pelted with advertising we seek out similar stimulation elsewhere.  It's like being a child who is given candy for good behaviour and then goes on to be a candy connoisseur and candy collector and opens up a factory to create and sell candy when the point the whole time was to encourage good behaviour.  Or something.

J just came in a read my thoughts so far and said that I shouldn't be so put out by all of this.  All of us walk around with holes in our hearts that look to everything to tell us who we were meant to be and what lives we were meant to have.  Pinterest, et al. are just one manifestation of where we look to have our hearts filled.  But to look at our Creator and to know and see that He made us who we are and loves us is the only completion that we can have.  Having that knowledge and love at the centre of our hearts lets Pinterest and everything else fall in to their appropriate place: diversion.

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