Social (Media) Distancing
So for the first time in the 49 years that I have been alive, I am currently watching in disbelief as the country shuts down due to a pandemic. Both of my children are home from school, my local grocery store is running low on toilet paper (inexplicably) and cleaning supplies (understandably), several of my friends are working from home, and all of us are strongly encouraged to practice “social distancing,” in order to keep from spreading the disease.
The whole thing is a little surreal—to say the least. And while I am all about public safety, this whole “social distancing” thing has really made me stop and think because honestly, aren’t we already socially distant enough? We text rather than call. We “like” and “friend” on social media but we don’t put in the work required to maintain healthy relationships in the real world. We “ghost” rather than have important or uncomfortable conversations with little or no regard to how destructive that particularly insidious coping mechanism is to a person’s psyche. In fact, studies show that ghosting is “one the most damaging forms of mental and emotional abuse” because at best it destroys a person’s self worth—telling them in no uncertain terms that their very existence is irrelevant. At worst---well, we read the “at worst” scenarios in the news more often than we should, don’t we? Suicide rates are staggering.
So how strange to me that we are outraged at having to socially distance ourselves from one another—because we have become quite good at it on many levels. I suspect our ire has more to do with the restriction of our leisure activities than the restriction of our face-to-face interactions.
Ok—so before you tell me that I am missing the point---I understand that the “social distancing” we are being instructed to practice is a real thing and for the greater good—and I am not making light of a serious situation. But what I AM doing is using the term to drive the point home that maybe what we need after this crisis has passed is less social distancing and more social media distancing.
Don’t get me wrong---social media has a place—but we’ve given it a pedestal. We use it to feed our egos, to bully both aggressively and passively, to disseminate information without fact checking and, in some cases, to induce panic or influence public opinion. If social distancing prevents infection of our bodies, than social media distancing could prevent infection of our spirits. Don’t believe it? Think for a minute about what fills your feed. Does it motivate you? Inspire you? Teach you anything? Or does it make you feel inferior, jealous, anxious or irrelevant?
On my business feed, I see a lot of fitness accounts. The ones that I stop and read or click through are the ones that offer nutritional information, exercise demonstrations, personal journeys and/or success stories—but they are few and far between. What I AM inundated with are photos of instructors showing their abs with a motivational quote—no gym in site. Are these offering any value to me? Am I learning anything besides which filters are the most flattering? Not so much.
My personal page is another story. I keep it private, and because both my husband and father are public figures, I also keep it pretty locked down. The people I follow or who I accept as followers are my family, and people that I actually know and trust in real life. However, there are times when someone slips through, or a relationship changes and suddenly someone who doesn’t give a damn about you in real life is still being granted access to your world. Those are the toughest social distancing calls to make, but if someone ignores you in the real world, yet stays on top of your social media, it has been my experience that their motives are usually not in your best interest. Sad but true.
As we move forward this week in our new worlds of working/studying/and socializing from home, chances are that many people will be on social media more than ever. So take a moment and really look at your feed and your “friend” list and do some distancing where appropriate, removing accounts that make you feel anything less than inspired, motivated, curious, loved, or fabulous on both a personal and professional level. Maybe mine is even one of them—who knows? My goal is and has always been to inspire and support women in their fitness journeys (especially as we age), but if I’m not doing that for you than by all means delete and follow those people who do motivate you to be your best self. You do what’s best for YOU!
Protect yourself from the things that infect you mentally or emotionally and focus on your total wellness, knowing that in the end, this too shall pass—and hopefully we will all be a little wiser-and kinder-- for the experience.