There are three broad groups of people in the relation to social media:-
- Those who post regularly;
- Those who use social media to observe others but rarely, if ever, post themselves; and
- Those who do not concern themselves with social media whatsoever.
I proudly fall into the first category, though I am sometimes questioned by the other two categories on why I would be so open and personal on a global network. Do I think that I, and others, overshare at times? Yes I am sure there are a few occasions when on reflection, I probably wouldn’t have posted something had I considered it a bit more and I wince at some people’s posts. I do however think that the majority of my posts, and other people’s posts, have a purpose and I’ll explain why.
We are all human
I once had a very open conversation with a date about their medical situation, which I believe, if we were in his shoes, most of us would avoid talking about it like the plague. So I find it rather admirable that this man opened up to me about something so delicate when we didn’t know each other well. In particular, something he said stuck with me, and that was that as a society we don’t share enough. We tend to avoid personal conversations, even with loved ones, but this is damaging on our personal growth because how do you know how to solve a problem when there is nowhere to go for a solution? The best way to learn and teach is to share your experiences with others so that they can see how you have developed through challenging times.
For me, when I saw a weightlifter post about how they had ruined their competition preparation by binging on food, my gosh did it relieve so much pain. To just know that there was somebody else out there that rams food into their face, and keeps going, even when they feel sick, because they are crumbling under the pressure made me feel that much more human. Sometimes it really is enough to just know that somebody else has gone through or is going through the same difficulties that you are. It is something that is less and less apparent in this electronic world where it is far too easy for people to create delusions of perfect lives. To constantly see people post really positive lifting videos, no wonder I convinced myself that I was the only one struggling through competition prep.
It is so OK to talk about and share these sensitive things. If there is anything you want to achieve, surely it is to ensure that the next generation are prepared for the world that they must face?
Why do I post my weightlifting videos? Because I want everyone to tell me how good I look? Hell no, I don’t do it to show off or for praise and worship. I do it because I want to know how I can improve. If you only ever consider your own thoughts, you’ll miss so many opportunities. I love posting my videos because it invites others with more knowledge to explain to me how to correct my technique, even if it is as simple as moving my left leg slightly inwards. It makes all the difference and I would not have spotted it had someone not pointed it out for me.
It is an even better feeling to receive a message saying “I can see you are keeping your back flat, you’re looking strong!” So not only are my mentors actually interested in my journey but they are also keeping me accountable by letting me know that I am following their advice. Of course, you will get your fair share of trolls but you cannot please everyone. I believe the massive support network you get from sharing your journey globally far outweighs the small number of people who will try to disrupt your journey.
Inspiration and motivation
My Instagram has a theme; food, lifting and dancing. You will not be able to scroll through my account without encountering one of these things every other post! I love watching men and women lift heavy weights because it motivates me to be a better lifter and it gives me a set of standards to aim for. I love watching bachata videos because I am still very new to dancing and it inspires me to move more fluidly. I also get to see a bunch of cool moves which I want to learn myself. I love seeing pictures of food because it inspires me with my own recipes and it gives me ideas as to what new dishes to try when out and about.
People sharing things with others who share a common interest stimulates creativity, self-confidence and self-development. It encourages people to strive to achieve amazing things and to have the best experiences in life. That said, social media is, unfortunately, an easy platform to share false information such as massively photoshopped photos of physiques which are simply naturally unattainable. You can be manipulated by companies and sponsors into following programs or buying supplements which claim to give you a false reality therefore you become trapped in a journey which will never be satisfying. The solution is to distinguish between these accounts and to not follow them so that you are not influenced by such posts. Find inspiring accounts and let them fill your mind with ambition.
If I’m not posting weightlifting videos, then I’m posting food and no matter how much I love my food, I simply do not have the brain capacity to remember all the names of the wonderful dishes I come across. When I have a good meal with good food, I’ll post pictures of my dishes and I’ll list the names of all the dishes in the description. Why? Well when I encounter another foodie I can whip out my Instagram and be like ‘oh hey have you tried pla mhuk kluck pang thod because it is out of this world’ (the hell am I ever going to pronounce that correctly, let alone remember it). It is a mechanism to make friends and to connect with others. It also means when I go into a restaurant I can ask the chef/waiter whether they have X, Y and Z or show them a picture of the dish I’m thinking of and relive those moments all over again.
Of course, I could just write this all down on my phone and create my own personal log. However, Instagram’s layout is ideal and convenient and, again, we have the capacity to share so if I’ve had a good meal at a good restaurant I’ll want to recommend it to people. Do not underestimate the ability of network advertising; it is how we keep the little guys afloat from the big commercial, factory-like monsters (who are key players in the market but they must keep their egos at bay).
Yet, despite being fairly open about my weightlifting journey, food choices and general view on life, there are several topics and memories that do not make it social media and I am so happy that I can keep these separate, amongst my closest family and friends only. Never feel you must post everything to seek approval for what you chose to do in life.
Ultimately, no-one is holding a gun to your head and telling you to follow a certain person. So if their posts really bother you that much, instead of bad mouthing them, unfollow them and spend your time doing something more creative. Your life, your choices.
What do you use social media for?