“Don’t count the days, make the days count.” “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” “Enjoy the little things.” “Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness.” “Be so happy that when others look at you, they become happy, too.”
No, these quotes aren’t being spoken by a therapist or motivational speaker, they were found squeezed between images of creamy pastel colored cupcakes, glowing mason jars on picnic tables, and periwinkle sparkly skirts on the image heavy social sharing site Pinterest.
Recently, the New York Times took note of a trend that’s been sweeping the boards of digital platform; despite the fact that it was founded in images, there’s been a surge of typed out inspirational slogans.
According to Repinly, the most popular boards on Pinterest are currently: 1) Elephants with 3,079,449 followers 2) Babies with 3,042, 306 followers and 3) DIY with 2,449,019 followers. Also among the list? A board called “Delicious,” “Wedding Gifts,” and another called “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
But within these boards, a typographer/philosopher/graphic designer’s dream exists — a smattering of uplifting quotes account for 10% of Pinterest’s content. With millions of people pinning every day, that’s quite a bit of “fortune cookie advice” going around.
This, for example, has 913 repins:
The Times simply pointed out the trend, how it mostly exists on Pinterest (currently the fastest growing social media platform), and it’s “group therapy” feel. But after reading it, I was left wondering: why?
Why does it feel like we need to be inspired more than ever?
And why as a nation (the United States currently is the number one user of Pinterest), are we so obsessed with feeling inspired?
It goes beyond the snappy fonts laid atop dreamy clouds, and has more to do with the trajectory of the role of social media and blogs within our society.
Not long ago we were a nation thoroughly enthralled with the idea of reality.
Reality television filled our homes and it obliterated privacy barriers. Then blogs picked up steam, giving a “real” look into subjects that were often filtered by editors or publishers. From there, social media took off, giving real-time updates of friends’, and more often acquaintances’, lives.
While this trend still exists, it’s definitely reached a status of a slow simmer from it’s former fiery flame (brands have tapped into social media and blogs to market themselves, and these days most reality television is scripted). Instead, Gen Y has started moving back toward the element of fantasy — and Pinterest, along with it’s reassuring and happiness-inducing pats on the back, are a direct result.
So, why is this?
It may have something to do with the deflated feeling we collectively feel as a country. When the recession hit in 2007, many were left without jobs or prospects — our vision of the future, and reality, was bleak. While job creation has increased, many still took major pay cuts or are now responsible for more duties without more pay.
If you think about it, a similar situation happened when the Great Depression hit in the early 1930’s: even though Americans did not have enough money for food, they would scrape pennies to save to go to the movies, it was their way to have a moment of fantasy, away from the tough reality they faced every morning when they woke up.
It seems like now our fantasy is a little different.
Our fantasy is to reshape our reality. We want someone to pat us on the back to say “good job,” or “hang in there,” or even, quite simply, “YOLO.” A boost in our ego, perhaps.
On the IFB pin-board, for example, Wise Words “because even fashion bloggers sometimes need a pick-me-up!”, followed by Fashion Blogging Tips & Tricks, which also offers advice with fancy typography and alluring photos, are the two most popular boards.
But how does this affect you?
As a blogger, analyzing these trends can work to your advantage. Tapping into the consciousness of “wants and needs” of your audience can help you create content that has a more fruitful return in engagement.