Lexi is #overit: Here's why.
I’m so over the motivational quotes, fitness tees and Instagram boyfriends. I’m so over dog filters and perfectly posed photos. The quest for the perfect Insta photo has been the death of originality and the usher of insecurity.
Let me say from the onset that I do believe social media is a powerful tool that can be used quite effectively to build relationships, establish a network, increase visibility and so on. But these days every Tom, Dick and Mary is a motivational speaking, part-time model with a Udemy degree in smoothie nutrition. I get it; we’re all just here trying to portray the best versions of ourselves (#anglesbitch), but when your images are modified or cropped to give a very altered perception of reality, what are you really portraying?
I recently came across a YouTube tutorial on how to attain the perfect model poses for your Instagram photos. I nearly fell off my chair. People are trying to reach perfection through profile tailoring. And what is it doing the psyche, this having two distinct personas/realities? It’s a bit #Jeckylandhyde for my liking. Not to mention the constant approval seeking. Omg you got how many likes? And the constant bombardment of ‘you have to be perfect’ or ‘no you don’t have to be perfect, because even the Kardashians are insecure about their cellulite’. It’s fuelling insecurity.
Honestly, should anyone really give two flying sharts about what people on Instagram tell them is acceptable, admirable, likeable? Yet they do. Reading the comment sections on some news feeds – and the unnecessary bombardment of negative comments from trolls - scares the living daylights out of me. Acquaintances have posted their most personal moments on social media for the whole world to read in order to feel more connected. Yet when we talk in person, it never comes up. What’s with that? How is it easier to share your secrets with your ex’s dodgy cousin that you met once at a wedding, but not with someone you know and trust, and see on a daily basis?
Social media connects people worldwide, yet so many people feel so disconnected. Having personal relationships and spending quality face-to-face time gives us a feeling of comfort and support and for many, this is one of their love languages. Yet, social media is encouraging people to form and cherish artificial bonds over actual friendships and real connections. And the less connected and “seen” we are by actual IRL people, the more we seek validation from our 763 virtual friends.
Personally, I’ve had times when I’ve noticed my entire mood shift because of certain images of people on the ‘gram; be it a social hang that I wasn’t invited to, or an image that looks so cool that my self-confidence plummets because ‘why don’t I look like that?’ or ‘I never get that many likes’. I have to consciously acknowledge what I’m doing in that moment and remind myself that my life isn’t measured in likes.
I know that Instagram is used as a great promotional tool for many and for some it’s just a space to share their favourite images. But for some people, it’s used consciously as a competitive space to showcase themselves to others. Social media has led to an increase in suicide rates and eating disorders. Women in particular feel the constant need to have a flat stomach like Emily Rajowski, or a big bum and thigh gap like every Kardashian ever.
But those people are fake, right? Not like us sporty types, right? I used to have a strava profile and I must say struggled with it. Every day I’d log what I’d done that day and would see what fellow athletes had done. At one stage I had technical difficulties logging my sessions and friends would berate me for giving them kudos, but not uploading any of my own sessions. It was basically ‘you can see mine, so I want to see yours’. #bringitbitch
I totally understood where they were coming from, because at the end of the day you can’t be on strava checking out the competition’s stats, but not logging your own. The competition’s tough out there, but it’s not OK to be a stalkery intel gatherer. Even Ben Hoffman logs all his sessions so that the okes can see what he’s doing. I get it, but when I saw that people were analysing my sessions and commenting on them – negatively – amongst one another, I initially made most of them private and then deleted my profile altogether. I’m aware that fellow age groupers analyse each other’s performances all the time, but I draw the line at the “judginess” of it all. We don’t know what’s happening in someone’s life. Maybe they had a long day at work and struggled with their run set. Maybe they saw the cutest dog ever and had to stop to pet it. I constantly read people crapping all over one another’s performances and all I can think is - we all started somewhere and are working towards a common goal.
This year was interesting for me with regards to racing. I qualified for World Champs (70.3) and yet it was one of the most average races for me to date. After that I went to the Champs knowing that I wasn’t racing at full potential due to health issues, and that I was “just there for the experience”. My go-to motto is ‘mind over matter’- your mind gives up way before your body does, so you might as well do the thing before you think about it.
My coach sat me down after Worlds and we discussed the major loser complex I was suffering from. He told me I needed to focus on why I started this sport in the first place, and that was the essence to my drive. Not being better than my competition, but being better than I was yesterday. We also discussed social media and the negative impact it had had on me, specifically with regards to training and mood. I started to see it more clearly. Then I read an article that discussed the correlation between spending more time on social media and an increase in anxiety and depression. I knew I had to at least cut back on social media.
I saw people upgrade their bikes, nutrition and kit on social media #newbikeday #newkitday. I discussed it with a friend and she told me it’s a tough one, because if your parents buy you that stuff then it’s great for you, but at the same time there are people who are struggling to even get their bikes in for services and how must they feel seeing this flaunted on social media? The gravity of the effects of social media were become clearer and clearer. I noticed that watching others train – whether more or less than me - made me agitated and made me feel like I had to do more. I was constantly comparing myself to others. One day, I was told “comparison is the death of joy”. That hit home.
None of us knows what’s really happening behind the smokescreen of a feed; the false advertisement of a perfect life. Every profile is tailored for more likes, more comments and more follows. We only see what each individual wants us to see because who wants to see the mundane everyday stuff? #methatswho