“There’s an app for that!”
“Just Google it!”
“We have to take a picture to put on Instagram!”
It’s highly likely that we have all used phrases like those in our daily lives. Social media has become such an integral part of our society and it seems to be something everyone regularly uses. You can follow someone’s entire life on Facebook and Instagram. You can see everything from engagement announcements and graduations, to globetrotting vacations and new cars. But perhaps one of the most common things we all see on our social media pages is the ever popular fitness selfie. Yes, I went there.
Admit it; you’ve stood in front of the mirror at the gym and casually snapped a picture of yourself drenched in sweat. Because really, who doesn’t want to announce to the world that they’re working hard and getting fit? Yeah sure you’ll get some likes and maybe some encouraging comments, but then what? Then the judgement comes. I believe this is the most negative aspect of social media: it gives people a platform to openly judge you and have few repercussions for doing so. We’ve all been in a situation like that before. Silently scrolling through our Facebook feed and an article from some fitness guru pops up. We click, we read, and immediately form an opinion of this person based on what they have to say about fitness. Ouch, that was quick.
It may seem like I’m coming down hard on social media for the negative impacts it has on our world. But don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of positive things about social media as well, particularly in the fitness world. For example, there are countless apps that people can use to aid in their fitness journey. Some of them even have discussion forums where you can connect with other people and form a virtual support group. There are also apps that act as food journals, goal trackers, and even ones that log your workouts for you. How cool is that?
Because there are good and bad things about social media and the role it plays in fitness, and because I’m one of those people that just really likes lists, here are a few pros and cons regarding the impacts of social media:
Pro: It is SUPER convenient.
Think about it for a moment. A large majority of people have smartphones and smartphones have social media apps on them. If you suddenly decide you want to get in shape and be ready to run a 5K in two months, there’s an app for that. You can download it, put your goals in it, set a playlist, and be out the door on your first run in five minutes. Some apps even let you post a summary of your workout to Facebook and Twitter, thus giving you some instant gratification for your hard work and adding fuel to your inspirational fire.
Con: False Hope.
There are so many fitness pages and videos floating around the internet these days that it’s nearly impossible to avoid them. There’s a particular blog that I keep up with about a super mom who works out at home. She regularly posts articles and videos of her daily workouts and let me tell you…they are no joke. I gave one a try recently and let’s just say I probably made that walrus at SeaWorld that does sit-ups look good. Because there are so many resources on social media to help you develop a workout plan, it may give you a sense of false hope. Just because you see someone who is very fit do something and make it look easy does not mean you’ll be able to do it as easily.
This one essentially ties in with the first one. Because you can announce to the world through your social media that you have fitness goals, Instagram can become your “instant” accountability partner (see what I did there?) I don’t think there are very many people who don’t need someone to keep them accountable for their workouts and diet. If you do it in moderation, posting before and after pictures and checking in at the gym gives the people who truly care about you the opportunity to encourage you to keep going, even on the days you don’t want to.
Con: Compare? No fair.
A lot of people already have self-image issues and have a nasty habit of comparing themselves to others. All the crazy fit people with perfect bodies and perfect diets may serve as a source of inspiration for some, but for others they act as a guilt trip. Those people can’t help but compare their not-so-perfect body to that of a personal trainer — and that’s just not fair. That not only affects you physically, but mentally as well. It can be a real downer on your mentality and send you spiraling into a web of fitness uncertainty. That’s not a web anyone deserves to get tangled up in. It’s just unfortunate that social media provides us with so many opportunities to compare our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.
And that folks is just my two cents about social media. I’m an avid user myself, and while I don’t necessarily love or hate everything about it, it is deeply intertwined in my life. I don’t see it making a dramatic exit anytime soon.
Just use your best judgement and don’t do anything you even think you might regret later.
Stay strong, and may the fitness odds be ever in your favor!
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