Foto: Yeonwoo Baik

Social Media: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

Fit for Life – A Monthly Based Column with the Best Exercises of the Month

Text: Outi Autere

There is no denying it, we are living in a social-media-centred society ruled by the new Y and Z generations. Everything can be shared, anything can be created, and privacy seems to have lost its meaning in a jungle of different apps, blogs, tubes, and all sorts of channels for different communities. Furthermore, it seems there will be no easy way out of it in the near future.

Today’s toddlers can swipe the screens of smartphones to choose their favourite music. Yet, three decades ago the only thing I can recall doing was eating ants whilst crawling around a sunny yard –  and I was happy about it. I don’t have any photos to share about it though, isn’t it ironic? People travel, fall in love, get together, have families, grow old – just like they’ve always done, except now they share every tiny detail about it with a random number of friends, or even more, just with random people. They eat, sport and sleep. As far as I’m concerned, this is what I have been doing for the past 30 years whilst never really feeling the need to share these things with others. So what is social media all about – is sharing really caring?

One popular social media platform is Facebook, with over one billion active daily users. “Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them”, says their mission statement. True, Facebook is a free and convenient way to keep in touch with friends and family, and update them on the life events you’d like to share. Yet, do they really need to be a part of everything you do? Don’t you think the moment of sunset, on top the highest peak of a mountain, could be the most romantic if shared only between you and your loved one? Instead of taking dozens of photos where you’re posing to achieve the cutest smile, using up time choosing the most amazing filter and posting it to your Facebook account to get as many likes as possible? By the time this whole operation is over, the sun has already actually set and the moment is gone. Oh, but you did get 56 likes in less than an hour – was it worth it?

Social media is a trend to create trends. What one person finds entertaining can be shared and re-shared, building a community and overwhelming the media with repetitive posts and photos all over the place. There are more options than ever when choosing the best community to follow and be a part of, and once you’ve chosen yours, it is your time to shine in one way or another – though most often as a result of the way you look. If you are not minding your social media presence, then you are not fully branding yourself.

Illustration: Yeonwoo Baik
Illustration: Yeonwoo Baik

Not so long ago, the trend was to admire the looks of the skinny models with their skeletal bodies. When social media created this admiration, vulnerable young boys and girls tried to match this media-orchestrated ‘right’ way to look. This involved crazy dieting to the point of being admitted to hospital with anorexia or for self-harming because the state of skinniness couldn’t be achieved. What a sick world we share with our friends and family.

However, trends can be renewed over time. One of the best examples is the shift from admiration of the skinny to the healthy. Today brawny and healthy is the new skinny. The same young girls and boys (and it is not so much about age but rather how easily one can be influenced) found a new hobby from the gym, and began changing their diet from no food to healthy food, understanding that muscles cannot grow if they don’t get protein (food). Then, social media was there to help them find gym buddies and new sporting hobbies.

Sport and fitness is not supposed to be a trend, but if that trend involves getting more asses off the couch and making the one looking back from the mirror smile – then the trend has done well. Until…

At least one fifth of all smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone. There are different kinds of exercises, diets, and weight apps providing access to data, ideas, new exercises, and the latest workout trends with just a click or swipe of a finger. We can track our calories, access coaches, and find instant answers to our questions. There are a growing number of different exercise challenges starting every day, groups for your “before and after” photos, comparisons and for “support”. All good until it isn’t.

Your news feed starts to fill with pictures of perfect and flawless bodies; you constantly get notifications of new high-intensity workouts; and you see the posts from your friends after they’ve completed yet another marathon, already this spring. What started as a good turn can easily change into an impossible, untrue and unhealthy way to achieve perfection – a perfection that doesn’t exist. Social media is a strong channel that can easily be turned into a tool of distortion. As with the sunset, the photos of ripped and tight bodies are more likely to be results of photo-shopping, filtering and careful timing. Even the tightest body builders have different seasons in their lives to build their bodies, and very few people can actually keep up serious dieting every day.

Even Facebook’s mission statement comments on this: “People have the power to share and make the world more open and connected”. People have the power to make and create the world as they want others to see it. What you see is not always the truth, or better said, it is very rarely the only truth.

It is crucial to realize that you, and you only, can choose the way you live your life and how you make the best out of it – not for others but for yourself. If this means sports every day and fit photos of you, do it for you and for you only. Share them only to encourage others to achieve their goals and not to make your life look any better than it is. True beauty comes from within. Technology is a tool, not the answer.

Exercise of the Month:

Rest. Relax. Go for a walk with a friend. Talk, share your feelings with a person, instead of on social media. The sun is shining and spring is here. No photos need to be taken. Gather a group of friends and go outdoors. Run intervals together. Time your buddy. Breathe.

Easy interval exercise of 35min, including warm up and stretching, both 10min.

  1. Warm up with 10min light jogging.
  2. Run 30s as fast as you can.
  3. Recover for 2min with light jogging or walking. Don’t stop
  4. Repeat for 6 times.
  5. Finish with 10min light jogging.
  6. Remember to enjoy. And share it. Live.