The Facebook Fallacy
Full disclosure. . .I'm an avid Facebook user and probably spend more time delving through meaningless posts and threads than I should. It allows me to keep up with my sisters' most recent travel adventures, connect with my high school and college buddies, and get a guarded glimpse of what workouts and races my triathlete friends are doing. It's cheap entertainment! Frequently, I find links to reputable articles that are thought provoking, educational and honest. Sometimes, however, I gently close my Facebook tab feeling a little. . .well. . . deflated. That's on me, but deserves further explanation.
I'm a confident person but discovered quite some time ago that observing everyone else's workouts that are longer, faster, and more intense than mine, gives me anxiety. When I shared this with my coach, he told me to "Get the f*ck off Facebook." Of course! That made perfect sense! I tried. . .but I couldn't do it. I felt like I was missing out on too much. Plus, I use FB and other forms of social media as a marketing tool. It's hard to have your finger on the pulse when your computer screen is dead.
In the name of self-preservation, I took a hard look at why I was feeling inadequate and made some changes to the way I use social media, Facebook in particular. To start, I "unfollowed" a number of my triathlete friends that constantly posted carefully posed workout photo shoots and glamor shots of their Garmin. Although I'm happy for your success, watching you sweat and seeing that every bike/run you do results in a PR often leaves me questioning my own work ethic. At the age of 57, I'm not seeing many PR's. I realize that some of you may find those posts motivating. I do not. . .but that's me.
Before posting, I carefully ask myself the intent of my post. Am I doing this for attention? Am I looking for compliments? Do I need my "friends" to know how awesome my family is? How much I love my husband? or How well I did in my last race? I've started to post less about what I have, what I've done, and what I'm about to do. This has resulted in less pre-race anxiety for me (thank you) and fewer "braggy Fran" posts for you (you're welcome). Apparently, there's a scientific link between narcissism, low levels of self-esteem and self worth with higher Facebook use. Go figure.
I don't think social media is inherently bad, but I do think it can be dangerous. . .and not just for our teens. It's important to admit that what we post on social media is our attempt at influencing others perceptions of us. Therefore, what we see on social media is only what our "friends" have carefully orchestrated for us to see. It's all very lovely, but only tells half the story. I like to think of it as a Facebook fallacy. . .but that's just me.