I was an avid magazine reader. I once subscribed to Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Country Home, Victoria, Better Homes and Gardens, Everyday Food, Glamour and Allure. I barely finished one month’s supply before the next stuffed my mailbox.
That was when Bush Number 2 was still in his first term, and Internet 2.0 was incubating in Silicone Valley garages. If you wanted access to new recipes, make-up ideas, the latest fashion and celebrity gossip you turned to where American women turned for almost two centuries, the glossy pages of a magazine.
Magazines were cheap. With a subscription most of them cost about a dollar or less a month.
Magazines were portable. They went with me to work to read on my lunch break or to the doctor’s office to pass time in the waiting room. I wasn’t exactly turning the pages of The Atlantic or The New Yorker. There were no ironic cartoons with jokes that came with indecipherable punch lines. Articles in my magazines were quick reading material, easy to scan and digest.
Magazines were escapism. Within the filmy, color-saturated CMYK pages was a world where white couches and Great Danes lived in harmony with their perfectly coiffed, Kate Spade clad owners who made their own mozzarella and single-handedly remodeled dilapidated old barns into five-star bed and breakfast resorts.
If I just had a natural stone fireplace with a shabby chic 18th century French mantel with just the right amount of biscuit-white cracked, peeling paint my life would be perfect too.
Ah, that was the dark crux of magazine reading.
As much as you wanted to be like that, you knew deep down in your inner most parts you could never get your dollop of whipped cream a top your lopsided fig crepe cake to look as fluffy and elegant as Martha’s.
And flat, inelegant whipped cream is just depressing.
Then along came blogs. Blogs for single fashionistas. Blogs for moms who liked to cook with cheese. Blogs for yuppies who liked underground music.
Blogs for Yuppies who liked to cook with gourmet cheese and dress their kids in the latest hipster fashion and make fun of Taylor Swift.
There were blogs for everyone about everything.
And these blogs? The content was free.
Even better? These blogs were written by real people who actually made lopsided crepe cakes with slightly flat whipped cream. But the cakes still looked tasty in the pretty DSLR photos. If they, these ordinary folks with an IP address, could make those cakes so could I!
Flat, inelegant whipped cream and all.
Online magazines like Style.com, Apartment Therapy and Recipes.com also arrived on the scene. Free magazine-like content sourced, reviewed and tested by the masses abounded everywhere.
Print magazine readers fell in numbers.
Still this great new content wasn’t easy to find. It took time to sift through millions of blogs and websites. Sometimes hidden gems remained buried on page four of a Google search for “Unique Ways to Color Easter Eggs.”
So now and then we turned still to the familiar, tangible pages of print magazines.
Then along came Pinterest.
On Pinterest you visually browse thousands of blog and online magazine articles and videos. Articles that skew heavily toward food, fashion and arts and crafts.
Pinterest is free. It’s portable if you have a smart phone, a tablet or a laptop. Most of us have one, if not all three. It’s quick to read and to scan. Those three characteristics make it addictive.
Most importantly Pinterest is for the most part by and for the common person.
A picture is worth a thousand words. A picture pinned to Pinterest is worth two thousand words, because it’s sourced, categorized and approved by people of similar interests. Perhaps even people you know. Real People. You judge quality and popularity by the number of re-pins and likes. You share comments and read others’. Often pins are from a site you have yet to discover yourself.
Look no longer to Better Homes and Gardens, or even Google, to tell you how to arrange the Hydrangeas from your garden next summer. Simply search “Hydrangeas” on your Pinterest App while you’re getting a blow out at the salon to find a hundred real-life examples.
We don’t need Martha and her magazine anymore. Thanks to Pinterest, we’re all Martha Stewart now.