Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding hasn’t happened yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen it—or at least parts of it—on Pinterest. Right now, the most voyeurism-tempting elements of the wedding—the venue (Windsor Castle), the dress (rumored to be a Ralph & Russo), the couple’s beaming faces—are blanketing the site like corgi fur on Buckingham Palace’s floors. Since Harry and Meghan’s engagement announcement last November, the upcoming nuptials have yielded an explosion of interest on the forgotten mom of social media platforms—i.e., the one you forget to check in on until you need a pie recipe or new work outfit. What accounts for Pinterest’s persistently under-the-radar status? It might be that the site’s sorting algorithm is too good, too consistent: The abundance that it reliably delivers sates your appetite rather than whetting it. And there may be no manifestation of this shortcoming more telling than a royal wedding.
It takes a couple of scrolls, at least while logged in on my Pinterest account, to get a picture of Harry and Meghan among the “royal wedding” results. It only takes only a few more scrolls to realize how many other royal weddings there have been in recent years, how many other princesses—from Sweden, Denmark, Monaco, and Luxembourg—have had their big days meticulously curated and photographed. Alongside Harry and Meghan at various public events are images of wedding dresses with enough fabric to be repurposed as a yurt, literal walls of flowers, a horse-drawn carriage out of a storybook, and a row of crystal candlesticks as far as the eye can see. Obsessive boards dedicated to their romance will make you sick of looking at the attractive couple. I wish the soon-to-be newlyweds much happiness, but a few minutes on Pinterest left me with next-to-zero curiosity about their ceremony and reception. There’s only so many eight-layer cakes you can look at before even once-in-a-lifetime opulence feels commonplace.
We talk a lot about social media fueling desire and envy. The 2017 indie film Ingrid Goes West, for example, crystallized many of the anxieties we feel about Instagram as a lifestyle boutique, where users are given images to crave and links that will help them attain them. In the movie, the trouble comes when the mentally unstable Ingrid (played by Aubrey Plaza) can’t stop wanting: She can look just like her favorite influencer (Elizabeth Olsen), but she can’t become her friend. Pinterest, though—with its far more homogeneously starchy images, compared to Instagram or Google Images—tends to have a dulling effect, at least on me. One offer is a wealth of pleasing sameness, like a macaron tower with only one flavor. The pseudo-naturalistic lighting, centered compositions, and upscale-catalog yearning recur, in image after image. Pinterest seems to be bothered by the uniformity of its results in at least one regard: Last month, it announced that it is testing a feature that would allow users to filter results by skin tone, since white models tend to dominate search results.
It’s possible, if not likely, that Markle and the royal family will surprise us with something different. But the former actress’s decision to walk down the aisle alone for part of her procession as a feminist statement is probably the most unexpected sight we’ll see on Saturday; she’s marrying into the stuffiest family in the stuffiest country on Earth, after all. Markle’s lone march will be a symbolic victory for womankind, but I have to wonder how long her political intentions will be remembered on Pinterest, where her most fashionable-looking moments will be served up as yet another piece of wedding-inspiration fodder, her special day competing against many others’ in an endless quilt of aspirational femininity.