Every winter break I fly back to Connecticut with the mind set that I’m actually going to get something done. I’m funny, right? This past winter break was no different. I was determined to search for internships, clean my room and be a productive member of society. And this year, like every other, I failed. I wound up playing our new Wii and sleeping like an actual cat.

One day, I decided to retreat to my room, computer in tow, to actually clean it and make it look like a 20-year-old’s room should. A few hours later, my mother came by my room to check on me and found me ensconsed in a great pillow and blanket fort.

Her look of sheer bewilderment said everything. I calmly paused my music and explained to her that I was on a website with a virtual bulletin board that I post pictures on, called Pinterest. It was then I was sure my mother thought I was a basket case.

The description I gave to my mother wasn’t totally accurate. Pinterest is so much more than a virtual bulletin board. Pinterest was founded in 2009 in Palo Alto, Calif. by three friends: Paul Sciarra, Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann. It became available semi-publicly March 2010. Now in its open beta phase, the website is accessible through invitation only. How does one get this elusive Internet golden ticket? There are two ways. On the Pinterest website, a button on the top of the screen allows interested users to request an invite. Or, hopefuls can ask friends who are members of the site to send them an email invitation. I didn’t know anyone on Pinterest at the time of my discovery, so I opted for the invitation request from the website. This was in October 2011. I had forgotten about Pinterest and went back to my beloved Tumblr, a blogging website, I started using August 2009. On Dec. 13, I received an email from Pinterest welcoming me to the site. It took me a moment to remember what in the world was going on and what a “Pinterest” was, but soon everything clicked.

I took a few moments to register myself. Little did I know how deep this rabbit hole was. I was no longer a junior at SDSU; I was now Alice in the Internet Wonderland. The basis of Pinterest is a vision board-styled social photo sharing website. A user has the opportunity to make “boards.” Boards are then filled with “pins”. Pins are any pictures you find interesting. My first two boards consisted of pictures of things that make me happy and places I have been. I took them directly from my photo library and posted them. Pinterest requires its members to give descriptions of the pictures they post. The best trick to get other users to see the pin is to use elaborate descriptions. Other pinners can search for various images on the site through keywords. If I were searching for a picture of a zebra, I would simply type that into the search box and any image with the term “zebra” in its description would pop up. Users can also give each of their boards a category. This helps users find more pins in a broader spectrum.

No social networking site would exist without interaction between its users, so Pinterest allows users to follow one another. By following another user, pinners can see new pins on their timeline without searching and can “repin”, “like” or comment on an image. “Repinning” is the act of sharing an image onto a timeline. This concept is similar to reblogging on Tumblr, sharing on Facebook and retweeting on Twitter.

Pinterest has the feature to add a button to an Internet toolbar called “Pin It”. Pin It allows a user to pin a picture to his or her boards from anywhere on the Web. This is helpful to direct link something to Pinterest. I commonly will find fun gadgets, jewelry and other trinkets in my continous surfing expedition and in order to share them, I use Pin It. Then when someone on Pinterest clicks on the image, he or she is transferred to the website of the item I posted. This is also helpful in avoiding copyright issues. By direct linking, those problems are lessened or eliminated.

With the entire Internet just waiting to be pinned, those boards better be ready.