Social Media and Fitness: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Like many, I am truly fascinated by this crazy world we live in. We now have the seamless ability to connect with people from all over the globe at any moment. Well above half of the people in the United States have at least one social media profile and for young adults (ages 18-29) 86% have at least one profile. We can connect with old friends from past lives, stay in touch with those in our current lives, and even make new friends with the touch of a button. Because of Facebook, my host brother from Germany from many, many years ago was able to ‘friend’ me and now Marc and I are once again connected, which would have been darn near impossible just ten years ago. In a very short amount of time social media has come to dominate the way we interact and communicate and yet it still doesn’t quite feel real and tangible to me.
Social media is also woven into the daily fabric of our lives in fitness and wellness. We have access to data, ideas, new exercises, and the latest workout trends with the click of a mouse. We can track our calories, access coaches, and find instant answers to our questions. There are infinite possibilities to find right path for our journeys in fitness and wellness right here and right now.
Indeed, we live in a world of instants - instant messaging, text messaging, Skyping. The technology is dumbfounding and wonderful, and also frightening and confusing at the same time. Living in a world of instants has affected our health, emotionally and physically. The instant gratification we collectively seek has never been more pronounced than it is at this very moment in time. People want results and they want them now.
Technology allows us to take immediate steps to improve our fitness and health, yet at the same time technology can hinder or wellness if we aren’t tuned in. Technology as a whole is neither good nor bad - it’s both. The key is having the self-awareness to decipher how technology is affecting us. We have superb access to data and opinion. However, there is also a lot of bad information out there - including the information we want to seek rather than the information we know to be true from within. We tend to seek convenience and there is nothing more convenient than technology.
So how do we decipher it all, this mass of information? Here’s my breakdown of the good, the bad, and the ugly about fitness and social media:
I like data, what’s not to like? Data is specific and measurable, and so is the nature of goals. Social media allows us to share ideas and access data. Apps also enhance our ability to track our lives in fitness and wellness. Health apps are everywhere and growing at a rapid clip. The industry expects the number of health and fitness apps to quadruple between 2010 to 2016. Right now More than 40,000 health apps exist and are expected to bring in $1.3 billion in 2012, according to a Research2Guidance report.
The Bad and the Ugly
The nature of instant results and a ‘get it now’ mentality is counter to the nature of health and wellness, both mentally and physically. I find it beyond telling that sites like Facebook have a ‘wall.’ Think of the connotation of the word. A wall is a barrier, and is used primarily for defense. A wall doesn’t allow us to see. It provides a false sense of protection. Our walls show us/others what we want to see, but not necessarily the reality and what we must see to succeed.
I also find it telling that Facebook only has a ‘like’ button. It seems like we are only interested in finding and seeking what it is we like. Wouldn’t it be nice if life played out like that? However, life, especially in the arena of health, fitness, and wellness, most certainly is not like that. This much I know for certain – success and lasting results as it relates to our mental and physical health come about only in learning to accept and work on the dislike. What would life be like if we all put a wall up and only hit the like button? Look around you.
The Next Step
We live in a wonderful, but confusing time. There are more choices than ever and our freedom of infinite choice has resulted in so many new avenues of health and wellness. Organic vegetables are now the norm at many supermarkets. People have never been so focused on getting fit and participating in sport. That’s good. However, such freedom and access to technology has a dark underbelly as well - namely, the unwillingness and/or inability to look inward to the real answers.
All answers come from within and from above, so to speak. Technology is a tool, not the answer. The answers we seek can be assisted by the media we consume, but not solved by them. Additionally, we must possess the awareness to see there is a down side to technology and we must seek to control our media versus our media controlling us. Today, for yourself, let down your ‘wall’ and see what is behind it. If there are things that make you want to hit the ‘dislike’ button, pay attention and sit with that dislike and take a good look at it. My guess is the answers for you lie somewhere down that road.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.