Is Pinterest the new home-ec class?

Ashley Howland

I have a confession to make: I don’t have a hobby. No special skill or trade to speak of. No hidden talents or quirky pastimes (unless you count my ability to soak up useless pop culture trivia like a sponge).

However, my mother, the Baby Boomer, has many hobbies. She is a talented seamstress who can play the piano and her cookie decorating skills are second to none. My grandmother, who grew up in the Deep South during the Great Depression, is a one-woman Betty Crocker. She can grow her own food, make her own ironing starch and is widely known for making the best mayhaw jelly this side of the Mississippi. She’s also a mean cook that balks at the idea of using “convenience” foods.

Me on the other hand…I rely on the microwave more than the stove sometimes and my few attempts at sewing looked like a home-economics assignment gone awry.

But thanks to Pinterest, I’ve been shown a whole new world of homemaking. I’ve tried new recipes and DIY projects. I’ve also become handy with chalkboard paint. My son’s teachers even received some lovely handmade gifts this Christmas.

Aside from the addictiveness of Pinterest and the incredible user-friendly interface, I think it’s drawing people my age (especially women) because of its ability to teach skills they never learned.

My mother did the best she could to pass her talents along to us. She always said I would regret quitting piano lessons, and she was right. I regret it every day. But on Pinterest, I’ve found several links to online piano instructors, so maybe there’s hope, after all.

Most Baby Boomer mothers were busy showing us that women could have it all. My mother raised three children all while attending nursing school and working her way up the ladder at our local hospital. She taught me that I could do anything I wanted. I am forever grateful for that lesson.

The Baby Boomers were the first generation of women to really embrace the idea of the “working mother.” But I have to admit, those skills and talents possessed by my grandmother’s generation are impressive. They may have been the norm back then, but these days, women like that are an endangered species.

Millennials might be able to piece together a killer power point presentation, but a patch work quilt? Not so much.

The incredible technological advances of the last 50 years diminished the demand for our mothers to teach us some of these homemaking skills that were once a dime-a-dozen. When you can find pre-washed/pre-cut vegetables in your grocer’s freezer, what’s the point in growing, cleaning and chopping them yourself? And when you’ve “been on your feet all day” convenience sometimes trumps the “Martha” in you.

There really wasn’t much need for our mothers to teach us how to cook from scratch or “take up” our clothes. And frankly, there just wasn’t time.

My grandmother has these skills because they were a necessity. My mother because they were considered valuable, but for my generation, there really is no essential need.

But thanks to Pinterest, Millennials are picking up forgotten hobbies and old school skills. At least once a week my family is treated to a new recipe that I procured from the site. One of my co-workers even made her own laundry detergent and soap from scratch (really!).

Other “pinners” and bloggers are teaching us these skills through the magic of social media.

Pinterest is not only the “shiny new toy” in the social media tool box, it’s allowing a whole generation of people to come full circle and giving them a window into yesteryear. Clearly, social media is not a waste of time like some of our generational predecessors sometimes argue.

Maybe the Millennial generation is the first one that really can have and do it all, thanks to websites like Pinterest.

And in the process, maybe picking up some new hobbies to occupy our time will keep us from getting drawn into the shameful time-sucking spiral that is “pinning?” Virtual hoarding, as I like to call it.

Are you a Millennial that has found a new talent or skill since using Pinterest? I’d love to hear your stories.

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