Don’t Let Social Media Be Toxic to Your Confidence

Honesty

We are in a connected world.

I have a few friends who do a great job at staying away from almost all of it, but the rest of us, we are constantly looking at our phones, computers, screens, and we are addicted to checking social media ALL. THE. TIME.

I also worked as the Community Manager for RunnersConnect, what is Community Manager you ask?

Well, my job was to grow the brand, get as many people as possible to know and trust RunnersConnect, and a lot of my day was spent on the social media channels promoting the company and what we offer.

That adds another layer of social media time to my day.

Overall, I think it can be great. Gretchen Rubin talked about how powerful sharing your workouts on social media can be to provide motivation, and seeing other inspiring people can go a long way to get us off our butts and doing something to go chase down a goal we have.

But there is another side of this, a dark side, and I find that social media can be incredibly degrading and can make you feel like absolute crap very quickly, because all most people show is the good side of life.

And why would you show anything else?

We don’t want to become one of those whiny people with first world problems complaining that they feel a little down because they aren’t allowed to run for 3 days, get some real problems, THEN you can complain, we think to ourselves. I do NOT want to be one of THOSE people.

But we can’t help the way we feel, we live in the world we live in.

The reality of it is, there is a LOT of that sadness, but it is pushed under the carpet, and we are therefore seeing shining happy faces all the time, even if only 10 minutes prior to the photo, that person was feeling the sadness and frustration against themselves that you are feeling at that moment.

After all, you aren’t going to take a picture of a bad moment are you? Why would you want to remember that moment?

I find for me, as much as I love Instagram, it can definitely be the most toxic of all.

A few months ago, I went through and unfollowed a lot of accounts I used to follow, and not because they are bad people or had done something to hurt me, but I found that looking at their accounts were leaving me with negative feelings, rather than positive ones. Making me feel less confident in who I was, because they just seemed to have it all together, and, well, life just couldn’t be THAT good.

Frustration. Jealousy. Anger. Sadness would pulse through my veins.

How am I supposed to compete with that?

I would find myself looking at these accounts and not being happy for their success, not feeling excitement and true joy for their accomplishments, but instead, feeling bad about myself, because they were doing so much more than me, or they were reminding me of just how much I struggle with INSERT YOUR INSECURITY HERE, when it comes so easily to them.

If you are feeling this way when you look at a particular account, it might be time to consider unfollowing that person.

Same goes for Facebook, hide that person’s profile, so you can no longer see their updates. You don’t have to delete them, but just hide it, that way you do not hurt their feelings, but you can go to them when you need to.

It might just be for a certain amount of time. I know when we are injured, the last thing you want to see are all these running pictures of people having so much fun running every day, and they feel great.

So maybe while you are injured, you unfollow those accounts/hide that profile, and come back to it afterwards.

If need be, it might be better to completely take a step away and delete the entire social media channel from your phone/computer for the time being, so you can focus on making yourself better and feeling confident about who YOU are.

I think part of the problem is that we have the fear of missing out, combined with the inability to be bored.

We used to get bored while waiting in line to pay for something, or while you walked to the mailbox, instead we use those seconds to catch up on something that might have happened in the last 20 minutes since we last checked.

Even though a lot of the time you almost don’t even want to make any kind of alert that shows you are online, shows you are addicted….when it fact, we are all addicted, and we are all on there ALL THE TIME, even if we don’t want to admit it to the world or to ourselves.

We see this as a good thing, being more productive we tell ourselves, but in fact, being unwilling to give ourselves even a few minutes to just focus on one thing at a time is actually killing our creativity and ability to just think on a problem.

Think about it, being bored, that time while you were waiting or walking, was the time you would use for free thoughts, for thinking things through and having creative ideas, whereas now, we barely have a moment where our minds are not distracted.

That is exactly why I make sure a few runs a week are without music, without podcasts, without anything, so it can just be me and my thoughts.

Ohhhh I can feel myself going down a rabbit hole, a rabbit hole far too deep for a blog post, so let’s bring it back to social media.

How many times have you looked at someones profile, and felt bad about yourself?

Run a PR, feeling great about what you accomplished, to see a few minutes later that someone else ran their regular run at your race pace, and they talked about how easy they felt, how well their run went.

What happens to your excitement about your new PR? Suddenly it doesn’t seem so special.

Not that they did anything wrong, they are just celebrating something they did that made them happy or proud, and that is wonderful, we all should be grateful and gracious of the good we have in the world, but here’s the difference.

They are doing it to make themselves feel good, which is a good thing, but you have to do what is best for you. If you look at a person’s account, and over and over again you find yourself feeling sad or insecure afterwards, if it triggers any of those feelings I mentioned above, then maybe it is time to unfollow them, as what is best for them, is not best for you.

Find those social accounts who do make you feel inspired, motivated, happy, excited.

When they have amazing achievements, you feel so proud of them, happy for them as you know how hard they have worked to get there.

Those are the accounts to follow, and the other ones, you can follow from afar, and check in from time to time, but not every time you log in.

I realize that this might mean I lose some followers. Maybe I am that person for you, and if I am, that is okay. I want to help build people up, help you feel better about who you are and your own accomplishments, not worse! That is why I make a point to share those struggles, to hopefully show you that yes, life is wonderful, and I am fortunate to have a lot of great things in my life, but I also have a lot of moments that aren’t so great.

If I do still leave you feeling bad about your own running, unfollow my page, and find someone who does inspire you and make you feel good.

You and only you will know what accounts are best for you to follow. It will be different for everyone, but you will know if they are right for you by noticing your emotions after you look at their accounts.

Don’t let social media be toxic.

Do you have a few accounts in mind (don’t say them!!)? Or am I way off with this one? 😉

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19 Comments. Leave new

  • I think this is reason number 702 🙂 I’m grateful social media wasn’t around when I was younger. And I’m thinking 17 years ago or so when I was 30. At 47 it is so much easier for me to unplug look around me and think damn I am really lucky

  • I have been running for quite some time, and have never adopted the music, armbands or time monitoring gadgets used by so many runners. Thank you for your post.

  • I’ve been blogging for nearly 6 years now and my interests have changed. I’ve followed/unfollowed many people due to growing apart or them being toxic to me. I think it’s important to do that. There is no point in following someone that will just ruin your day.

  • Totally agree! And as I was reading this I was doing a check on myself…do I share the highs and lows? I think we can all be guilty of putting our best face forward but you’re right- to better serve those following along, they need to relate to us as real people. Only good news all the time does become discouraging.

  • Changes for me this year: I only check facebook once a day because it destroys concentration during the work day. Facebook tells you when it is someones birthday, so I use that day to decide if I actually interact with that person, and if not they are gone. I find it is way harder to have 2500 friends than 500 friends. But I do use it for all the silly things I am interested in. When I really want to connect I send group texts now, not as many general stuff. I use Instagram to follow all the famous people I am interested in. I use Twitter to follow only the things I am very interested in. Facebook also makes me very concerned that they manipulate me–I am concerned FB does things that if we knew about we would be very concerned about.

  • Great thoughts. I think there is a flip side, and that is an awareness of what we are sharing. I no longer share my workouts in facebook because what’s the point? I know I can be put off by others, so I know I would put off some. The only exception is a short photo-off I had with a friend where we shared views from our hill workouts. I share limited info about my workouts with a small circle, and found that as I have made real connections with people about those workouts, those friendships have strengthened – and I know I have inspired others to get out there, just by talking with them.

  • Great post, Tina. Thank you so much for addressing this topic, and for all you do for the running community.

  • I can see the rationale behind not following some people, while following others- I do think there is something to be said about being challenged a bit. We cannot always hide, or block things that challenge our train of thought. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. If anything, I love following people who are at my speed or faster, even though they can run my PR’s for easy runs- it challenges me and inspires me to work harder. If an account is giving me negative feelings, its more likely because I know they are lying, being fake, or truly inauthentic.

    • With that said though, I agree like Hollie said- no point in following someone who will just ruin your day. But that can also be a time to look at WHY that person or what they are doing have such a deep impact on you.

  • Absolutely right on. I find following some people very motivating in my training and it helps me push through a workout. At other times I play that comparison game which isn’t a good thing! I think it was you recently that expressed your trouble in regaining that fitness after CIM and those nagging niggles and I sympathized through every moment of that as I was going through the same thing. My niggles appear to finally be gone…so sprinkling in some speed work and hill repeats and hoping the legs will come back soon. Keep motivating Tina!

  • Such great advice. I’ve been unfollowing a lot of accounts recently too. It’s important that what I see makes me feel good.

  • Darlene J. Waters
    February 22, 2017 10:21 am

    I think one the largest issues we face as users of social media is the inability to be present. Those few minutes we used to have standing in a check-out line, waiting in a doctor’s office, or even just using our lunch period, are now spent scanning social media. Last year I intentionally elected to begin leaving my phone in my purse when opportunities such as these (to “just be”)arose. I noticed how often we check-out of society, revert focus from ourselves and those around us, and to that end, neglect spending any amount of time connecting with either our own thoughts for problem solving or creating community.

    Being sidelined due to injuries or other issues deserves our best problem solving skills and contemplation. While social media has certainly offered me research, inspiration, motivation, and support, one must know when to step away from the world beyond our screens and reach both inward to ourselves and outward to those within our actual physical grasp. In the end, it’s really just pixels on a screen until it becomes your reality.

  • I love this post, Tina. On the contrary, I find you to be inspiring partly because you’re so dang fast, but even you have struggles and are humble enough to share them!

  • You always bring cheer, keep it real and make me feel happy, inspired and relatable to the struggles you are dealing with. I appreciate that so much about you! This post was refreshing and reminds me to be real with my friends and my posts as well. Thank you for the reminder!

  • You said what I’ve always wanted to say.

    It’s interesting that the feedback I receive on my blog is how much my readers like my honesty. That I “keep it real”. They appreciate my “rawness”. In other words, I don’t sugar coat things. But it’s a fine line between keeping it real and being negative. I never want to be that person. My life is good. It’s just not perfect. I have fun on my blog and I love my readers. What you see is what you get.

    Those other blogs and social media accounts? I just unfollow too.

  • Are you reading my mind? I had a whole post about social media influences on mood rolling around in my head this past weekend! I just haven’t composed it all! LOL

  • I do some social media (Facebook) and have recently started following a few runners (2 total?) but for a while have been thinking, “I need to jump on the Strava and Instagram bandwagon!”

    BUT…this post got me pondering…

    If I really think about the why behind my (un)action, it’s because I’ve seen quite a bit of negative drama it’s brought to the lives of some of my running friends. And frankly, I ALREADY feel overwhelmed by the information. OVERLOAD out there. Of course…like you said…there can be MANY positives. I’ve just been treading very lightly, and slowly, in hopes of building a positive support group, and one with whom I can truly identify. The saying, “less is more” is probably perfectly applied, in this case.

    Good post, Tina.??

  • You just wrote my mind!! Being a super brand new runner, and to this whole fitness community, social media has been a huge influence in motivating me and give me that extra nudge to keep trying harder each day. But, this whole comparison game at times can creep in sneakily and become counterproductive. It’s really important we don’t allow it to get the better of us. Thanks for writing this out so honestly!
    PS: Congrats on becoming an aunty!

  • Refreshingly honest as always Tina loved it I thank you for it xx

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