Although I’m a pretty smiley person, I sure do occasionally enjoy snipping at the enjoyment of others for zero motivation whatsoever. My dismissals of "Twilight" or "The Big Bang Theory" aren’t particularly revolutionary or cutting. They’re just excuses for me to sneer at acquaintances. And similarly enough, I've recently developed an irrational hatred for Pinterest.
“Ugh,” I snarked the first time my friend’s mom tentatively brought up her Fitness Board. “Pinterest is like Reddit and Tumblr had a baby. And the baby only knows the words from 'Eat, Pray, Love.” Burn.
For those of you who have dodged this particular Internet trend, Pinterest is meant to act as an “inspiration board” for its users. Given that my friends keep trying to lure me in using boards full of Jeremy Renner, I’m really not sure what that says about the actual type of -- ahem -- inspiration most users are taking from it.
And for some reason, I tend to write Pinterest off as desperately uncool, which is miiiiighty rich coming from someone who once wrote a 50,000 word fan fiction based on real-life members of Panic! at the Disco. Even as my friends eagerly Pin photos of Terry Pratchett books and Avengers fanart, I'm too busy harrumphing about my uniquely curated nerdiness to get in on the action. I can't explain it! But all the fluffy fonts and haggard front-page grammar make me a little itchy around the vertebrae.
So I’m not Pinterest’s biggest fan, for reasons I readily recognize as petty and unproductive. But this doesn’t mean I take kindly to anybody else trying to ruin the fun.
Pinterest has perplexed the sort of people who write about this stuff for a living with its sheer marketability. Despite the fact that its users are 70 percent women -- women who spend their time doing lady things like making curtains and doing squats -- it has one of the most profitable return on investments for advertisers on the market.
But, of course, we couldn’t have a lady website doing lady things without the dudes feeling ousted on their own turf. Hence, Dudepins.
Dudepins is a treasure. While Pinterest is clean, clearly navigable and filled with inspirational quotes like “I like people who smile when it’s raining,” Dudepins is a clunky shitshow only slightly improved by the presence of brief, hilarious glimmers of sincerity. “Man up. Sign up. Pin up,” the site’s tagline urges, possibly leaving room for intervals of chest-beating.
Reportedly started by two guys in Vancouver, the “Online Pin Board for Men,” seems to want to be a “safe space” for all those poor dudes who just wanted to have a place to admire their photos of Nicolas Cage without wading through a bunch of Jennifer Lawrence styling tips. No matter that guys have been the majority of users at Reddit, Imgur, 4chan, and tons of other popular websites for years; women were thriving on the Internet, dammit, and they wanted to play, too!
As the guys say in their Dudepins blog, “ There is room for Dudepins next to Pinterest since there is such a massive difference in the type of content shared. We want to thank all of our amazing users and all those involved in our community for this. It’s been great to attract those who share and enjoy ‘dude stuff.'” I’d think this whole exercise was a massive prank, but I can’t ascribe that kind of irony in good faith to the kind of Nice Guy that would genuinely find this sort of site necessary. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m almost positive there’s a place for “dude stuff” content on the Internet. It’s called “also on Pinterest.”
Honestly, I think I’d be more irritated about the whole situation if it just weren’t so sad. The imitation is a half-assed one at best. Instead of creating “boards,” which presumably call to mind women bludgeoning bystanders at Home Depot and other similarly frightening lady-things, men on Dudepins can make “montages,” which instantly make me want to start running stairs so some poor film intern can chart my fitness progress to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger.”
Most of the photos in the "Art" section are infographics, largely about Dudepins itself. "Music" has a handful of photos of the Beatles and Metallica. And rather than sections like “Hair and Beauty,” Dudepins has “Man-Caves” -- prime tips for scrubbing the semen and beer out from underneath one’s beanbag chair, perhaps?
Even the animal montages have photos captioned with things like “Find out why this hawk has a knife.” I don’t need to click to find out, Dudepins user. I already know why -- because it’s just so goddamn manly.
Let’s face it: I’ll never be the kind of girl who can coo, “Sooo pretty!” at wedding dress fittings without feeling like I’m playing a poorly written sitcom part. And with its pleasant, crafty aesthetic and plush pink background, Pinterest seems to be the online persona of a well-meaning but hilariously straight cheerleader frantically trying to give me a makeover in a high school locker room. It occasionally makes me want to channel Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids" and shit all over the proverbial sofa.
But at its heart, Pinterest is a friendly site, where all users (most of them women) can feel comfortable surrounding themselves with pretty things without fear of judgment. And responding to it by creating a weak, stupid equivalent for dudes just reinforces the idea that a site can’t be profitable until we strip it of everything that could distract from the all-important Dudely Narrative. After all, if it proves inaccessible to men, it’s automatically inaccessible to all humans. Right?
I fear, sometimes, that the tech-media industry is secretly dictated by a bunch of teenage boys frantically jerking off to yellowed photos of robots in lingerie. Just look at Reddit, one of the most popular social networking sites on the web and as dominated by men as Pinterest is by women. I don’t see any women trying to create “Chickit," which I assume would be stuffed to the brim with links to young adult novels and "30 Rock" fan-videos. We’ve been trained to roll our eyes and ignore it when we can’t relate to what half the population is producing, but asking the others to do the same results in tantrums and -- well, Dudepins.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not unduly worried about Dudepins blowing up and knocking Pinterest out of the water. I’m sure that when Dudepins dies a sad death, few will mourn. It’s just fascinating (and deeply, deeply irritating) to view it as an anthropological exercise: What does make a dude feel so manly, he had to create his own website to harness it?
The answer: not anything particularly out-of-the-ordinary. It’s like the site’s creators interviewed a bunch of 16-year-olds about the interests they were comfortable discussing with their foreign godfathers. It’s all “Cars!” “Sports!” “Liquor?” “Guns!” Even searching for “hot girls” yielded no results. How 'bout that.
And the few outliers are not well tolerated. Unlike on Pinterest, where user feedback on posts nearly drowns in positive emoticons, the overall radio silence from Dudepins users suggests a desperate, yawning loneliness. “This is a ballet I wrote and recorded about the Pharaoh Tutankhamen and his evil mother,” writes one user on the front page, clearly vying for feedback.
No response. Not even a "like." Probably should have gone to Pinterest.