I’ve received a bunch of emails after my last couple of posts and an overarching theme with them seems to be related to social media.

You don’t have to be blogger or someone who loves instagram, to like social media. Most of us are on it in some form, and while it can be positive and uplifting at times, it can also work negatively.

I’m a struggler {ha – I just made that up} so I know how you feel. I’m someone who has issues plainly put, but don’t we all. Either we admit them or we don’t, but they are there for all of us. I happen to be a bit of a loudmouth on the internet, something about putting my feelings {and oh boy do I have feelings} into words is cathartic to me. I was reading a self-help book the other day {I’m a fan of books and really like self-help ones because really we all could use a little help from time to time} and it said that writing was good for people like me. Ah yes, people like me, I thought. It’s true. Writing helps me work out my feelings. I’ve been told by friends {and not friends} that maybe I need a therapist to talk to – someone who I can work through my feelings with. Yes, I have had therapists off and on since college, but there is something very different about writing down your words and being able to read them back years later {and yes, I have heard of a journal, believe it or not I have one, and it’s filled with words too}.

But moving along….here are my thoughts on social media. Take them or leave them. If they help you – GREAT – if they don’t – just hit the delete button on this post.

First and foremost – what you see on social media is only a snap shot of someone’s life. I have a theory that the more people post how lalalalala great their life is, the greater the struggle is that they must be going through. Consider it. It may be a good theory, it may be a bad theory. Jury is out. Something about the grass not always being greener on the other side rings true in many cases.

Secondly – pictures can lie, or shall we say deceive. I don’t fault anyone for misleading pictures, we aren’t photo shopping stuff {unless of course you are and that’s a whole other story}, but we are working camera angles, or cropping, or switching something up to distract from areas that we see as problems. We all want to present the best image of ourselves online. So if you are comparing your body to someone else’s don’t.

Using myself as an example. Here is a selfie {ugh that word} I took Boston Marathon morning at my moms friends house. I hated it. My thighs looked bigger than normal {and I have issues with my thighs sometimes} and I generally felt I looked like sh*t {remember how I feel is relative to me – you may think I look fine – I felt uncomfortable in my skin at this weight}. So I took out my pony tail, took a new picture, cropped it and threw on a filter and voila – I felt like I looked “better” so I posted it to instagram.

Boston Uncropped 1

Boston Cropped 1

I follow EmilyMTV on instagram – she doesn’t irk me and I am inspired by her. She motivates me to want to lift heavy things and generally kick a$$ – but there are other fitness people who I follow that I literally want to smash my phone when I look at their posts. That’s not good. Don’t hate read – it’s not healthy for you.

Don’t hate scroll – it too isn’t healthy. So if someone on instagram or facebook or what not is making you insane because YOU are comparing yourself – then unfollow, or hide, or block or whatnot. If they come to you and ask why – give them the honest answer. I have issues I’m working through and your posts for whatever reason don’t motivate me, they discourage me {if they simply annoy you it’s okay to keep that to yourself ;)}. It’s not you, it’s me and it’s something I’m working on, so I hope you won’t take offense. If it’s someone you don’t know – who cares – people follow and unfollow me all day long it shouldn’t matter why they choose to do either.

If you are one of those people who don’t compare but you easily get sucked in to the fad of the week whether it’s some diet or some new workout, then do your research and see if it’s for you. I love “health” books as much as I like self-help books. I’ve tried paleo and being vegetarian. Eric and I did Whole 30 in 2013 because we wanted to see for ourselves if it worked. I’ve juiced and done cleanses. I don’t trust everything I read, but I do read it and say – hmm why not I’ll buy a book and read about it for myself – or hey I’ll get this cleanse and do it and see if I really do feel better. What works for one person might not work for another.

I love keeping up with the latest trends in fashion but I literally wear whatever makes me happy and have zero shame. I walked in to target the other day, post long run, in pink and green camo pj pants – in the middle of the day. I didn’t care and anyone who cared what I looked like isn’t someone who I want in my life anyways. You should feel this way about food, do what works for you and what makes your body happy.

I guess what my ramblings are trying to say is this.

1. Don’t compare.

2. Don’t believe everything you see/read. Who wants to post negative stuff all the time – no one. Only the best parts and “sides” {hahahaha} of people are presented. I mean even I am guilty of the Barbie arm to hide some arm flab.

3. Figure out what works for you and do you. You can’t lose in life if you are being honest with yourself.

4. We get ONE life {unless you believe in reincarnation – I don’t} make it one you love. Life is too short for regrets.

 

 

So now I ask you – does social media help you? Does it hurt you? What are your tips for navigating the madness?

 

Oh and since I promised I would slowly tell you all the changes I made here is an OBVIOUS one. DRINK MORE WATER. Water fills you up and it’s such an easy change to make. If you are like me, I don’t like drinking water…I know I know….weird…..so when I started drinking the appropriate amount of water it first made me swollen and made me gain weight. Eventually your body figures out that it’s going to get plenty of water and it starts to flush it out and you are back to a normal weight, only now when you drink water it helps you feel full and it helps you when you think you are hungry, but really you are just thirsty. It’s not rocket science and it’s a tip always given, but it works!!

Comments

  1. It sounds cheesy, but I am really protective of what and who I allow into my social media feeds. I love using it as a motivator. If someone leaves me with negative feelings, I delete them. I’m hard enough on myself…I don’t need help from anyone else!

  2. It doesn’t sound cheesy at all! I was so overwhelmed with my facebook account that I deleted it and started a new one where I only approve people I know. People should do what works for them when it comes to social media and other shouldn’t judge – IMO :) Have a great weekend Jen! xo

  3. Rule #1 is so incredibly difficult and I find myself constantly, without even realizing it, comparing.

    What’s funny is that I’ve followed you on Instagram for far longer than following your blog (just started the other day), and I had this vision of you being this beautiful woman (true) with everything so perfectly put together, and not that that’s not true, but I now read your blog and realize: you’re a normal person, like myself, with normal issues. Instagram and many other forms of social media really and truly are just tiny snap shots of whatever we want them to be and can very often display a completely false message.

  4. If there is people online that bother me, I don’t follow or respond to their posts. I have taken a few people off my feeds because I just got tired of what they were posting. And the water thing really does work! I won my dietbet a couple weeks ago because I watched what I was eating and drinking a ton of water! My body then craved the water more then the junk food!

  5. 1st I think you look fantastic:) 2nd I have felt bad about myself more than I feel good about myself physically since I was 13. That is horrible considering I am now 40. Thanks for putting it all out there that you too are a struggler and mostly for the tips.

  6. Thanks so much for your posts this week. I am really enjoying them and finding myself relating well! Keep them coming!

    PS-I am constantly changing what shows up in my social media feeds to make sure that I am only looking at things that affect me in a positive way. It can make such a difference!

  7. This very topic has been on my mind so much lately…in fact I have a post in drafts titled “criticism in the blogging world and how to be a breath of fresh air.” I don’t know if I’ll ever publish it, but seriously the negativity out there was getting me so worked up and not because it has been directed at me, but because in so many instances it lacks PERSPECTIVE. People need to consider everything and they don’t the just blast negativity because that’s probably all they feel about themselves, so how could they possibly say something positive? I get it and it needed to be said. Good post.

  8. ok, i have a lot of thoughts on this. because i super agree, but i also know i have such a totally different relationship with social media depending on how i feel about myself. when i’m in shape and motivated and on a roll staying in shape, i love people’s fitness related posts. damn, 8 miles at an 8 minute pace?! i was happy with my 5 miles at 10 minute pace! i’m gonna work harder to be like you! when i’m injured and have gained 12 pounds and can’t work out the way i want to, social media drives me NUTS. it can be the same exact picture and if i’m in a different frame of mind i’ll want to delete my instagram account.

    i think when people talk about their own struggles with body image, it can be really touchy for some people. i’ve worked really hard on myself mentally and emotionally to not equate my body size with my self worth, whether i’m 12 pounds down from where i am now or 12 pounds up. i have friends who are battling major eating disorders and body dysmorphia and self hatred who are easily triggered by someone else complaining about their own bodies. i think the emphasis on “this is my personal struggle and all of this is relative to me, i might look way too skinny or grossly overweight to you but either way, it’s my body and i’m not used to being in a body this size” is important. sharing stories about how we feel is important so we don’t all feel alone in our frustrations, confusions, sadness.

    i do think writing with some perspective that our “tough stuff” might be someone else’s cake walk, and with some support for those who are also struggling not with being 120 pounds or 200 pounds, but simply struggling to love oneself, something anyone at any size struggles with, can be a huge difference between triggering someone and helping someone.

    i guess my bottom line is while there is discrepancy in the health world about whether the concept of “health at every size” is legitimate or not, i for darn sure believe in “self love at every size.” i might not *feel* good 12 pounds up from here, but i have to know that i *am* good. i have to be able to recognize that i am not my body fat. and that someone 300 pounds heavier than me is not her body fat, and someone 60 pounds lighter than me is not her six-pack abs. to me, self love, not the circumference of my arm or the number on the scale, is the ultimate goal.

    “comparison is the thief of joy.” -theodore roosevelt

  9. Thank you so much for all of these posts. I try to stay off social media for these exact reasons. What self-help book were you reading by the way? I love a good self-help book!

  10. Agree on all accounts! I’ve had to unfollow some people too because it can be a trigger to see certain images all the time. I try not to OBSESS about my weight and appearance and Instagram does not help with that (for me).

    I also hate drinking water — I’m the worst!

  11. Cindy barbour says:

    Dorothy- social media is what you want out of it. If people tell you they don’t struggle, they are lying or they don’t have a great relationship with themselves. I am the most positive person I know, but sometimes I have to unfriend people when they are continually negative. As a life coach and runner for too many years to count I follow only people that motivate me-you motivate me and I enjoy your frankness and maybe I do or have shared in some of the same idiosyncratic running behaviors. Thank you for being glorious YOU and keep writing and sharing!

  12. I learned a long time ago that most of what you see online isn’t real, or is only a very small portion of the truth. When I went through my divorce, long before instagram & twitter but well into the Facebook years, people were shocked because I’d always put forth a happy marriage. I think social media is a great way to connect with people & perhaps learn, but not at all a place from which you should evaluate yourself or others. These days I am trying to be more real online, from posting pictures of me with bed head to just being honest about how I feel.

    p.s. xo 😉

  13. I can’t imagine having the kind of following you do and feeling the pressure of everyone’s expectations of you. I’ve always been inspired by your posts to do my best, so even as you go through this, I’m just glad you haven’t gone away for good.

    As for social media, not along ago, when both my personal and professional lives were simultaneously at rock bottom, I got off Facebook and Linked In because I couldn’t see a post about an engagement or new job without feeling full-on bitter and cynical. I kept Instagram because I felt like running was all I had at that time and I stayed motivated to workout during a rough patch because of it. Removing yourself from social media when you need to work through things is perfectly fine. You have to take care of yourself first and foremost and just because you started this blog or this-that account doesn’t mean you owe the world an explanation for your life. Just like in life, the people who care most will stick around longest, so take your time and do what you have to do! It’s okay.

  14. I also have had issues with sometimes wanting to smash my phone while scrolling through Instagram, etc. And I think your advice on unfollowing that person makes total sense. I think we are inundated with social media these days and we are constantly “on” by constantly checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. And if some of those posts cause slight anxiety, how is that going to help us get through our day or feel good, etc. By the way, your first photo looks great, but it’s nice to hear someone also say they have insecurities about legs, thighs, whatever. When I look at that photo, I see a woman who I admire for how strong she is and all of the accomplishments she made, specifically in that picture she was about to run the Boston Marathon!!!! Booyah!!

  15. Have you seen the studies about how people know that they exaggerate on social media/facebook, but believe that other people are telling the truth and not exaggerating. hah.

    Also, I thought you’d like this: http://www.buzzfeed.com/catesevilla/running-on-instagram-vs-running-in-reality

  16. I have struggled with body image issues and low self esteem as a result for years and years. I try not to let the images on social media affect me too much. My journey is my own and other people are working on their bodies in their own way….here’s the thing….I don’t think I will ever be happy with how I look because low self esteem supersedes the scale and the numbers. So instead I take lots of pictures and delete ones I don’t like. If you check out my blog you won’t see a lot of pics of me per se because there is always something I don’t like. I could go on and on regarding this topic forever. I think most of us can. But let me just say that you look beautiful in both pics :)

  17. As a blogger, I am constantly unfollowing people on social media for the reasons you mentioned. It is so hard not to compare yourself to others and realise you’re on your own journey. We all have our insecurities, but there is no such thing as the perfect body. I think you look awesome and as a beginner marathoner (2) your blog is incredibly inspiring!

  18. When social media makes you feel bad about yourself- get off social media! (I mean this generally speaking- to whoever feels this way.) Participating in social media is a choice. A few don’t do it at all but most engage at some level. I think we all know what we can handle but most of us go way past that point. We get sucked in. The more you do the more you depend on it and find your self-worth in what others think. (The comments, the likes, the page-views, etc. ) sorry, I’m
    Not trying to come across preachy. I’ve heard others bring up this issue recently and I feel like we put ourselves in these lose/ lose situations to begin with. I hope you find peace and remember what makes you special. It won’t be found on Instagram or Twitter or anywhere else. It’s learning to accept who you are and loving yourself. I don’t think that can ever be found on social media.

  19. I have to agree that social media is sometimes harmful to your self image. It is way to easy to get pulled into fads and see others in a way that makes you jealous or uncomfortable.

    Just like is training, there is a sense of individuality with everything. Not everyone responds the same way to the same things. There is a general consensus that meets the needs of a majority, but you might not be in the majority.

    We need to always remember to take things one step at a time, remember that it is ok to try things out, but then decide for yourself.

    Great Post! and SENDEM!

  20. This was a really good, honest post. I think we all suffer from comparison and self esteem issues and sometimes social media is the devil. Lol! I know if I’m having a day where I don’t feel so great about myself, social media makes it worse. I try to stay off the sites until I’m in a better headspace. Thanks for being honest and open about posting & filtering pics, because we all do it.

  21. I really enjoy your blog. The fact that you have improved so much in marathon running (racing)? Is awesome and with 3 little kids! I think I’ve commented a few times in the past years and I just wanted to say the title of the post kinda bothered me. I feel it starts off by sending the wrong message. Social media doesn’t “make” us feel bad about ourselves. WE make ourselves feel bad all on our own. No one cares about our PR’s, BQ’s, AG place more than us. Let’s not be fooled.

    As I head off to chase my BQ for the 3rd time here in Richmond, VA I am aware that I’m doing it for me and not worry about potential disappointment that my friends and family might feel if I don’t make it when the news hits social media. It’s hard not to take our selves so seriously but it makes life way more enjoyable.

  22. Erika Navarre says:

    So, I’m late to this blog post – but I really appreciate your thoughts and honesty. Yesterday I went for an afternoon run in shorts and I took a picture for my IG account to comment how warm it was and how grateful I was to be able to run in shorts in the middle of November. It was just a picture of my legs and shoes (you know, the typical boring run pic), well, I noticed that you could totally see the cellulite on my thighs. I almost deleted it because it definitely wasn’t flattering, but I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t. These are my legs and I’m proud and grateful for the miles that they carry me through. Your IG posts inspire me! i need to try some Jillian ab dvds! :)

  23. I agree entirely that social media can change a person and how they portray themselves on the internet. The first statement that “social media is only a snapshot of someone’s life.” Is entirely true you may never know what is going on behind the scenes of their posts. The second statement is also true, even I have found myself many times disliking the way I look in a picture. This causes me to change the angle, my hair, or even the filters. The four points in the end are definitely something that should be applied in everyone’s lives. We should not compare ourselves to other people on social media. Also we should not believe everything we see or read on social media, we never know the persons whole life story. We only get one life so we should live it to the fullest.

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  1. […] When Social Media Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself via Mile Posts because this is an important, timely topic and something I think we’ve all struggled with at one time or another. […]

  2. […] since I read the comments in this post, and was brought to mind again by Hannah’s article and Dorothy’s post.  It’s ugly in the worst kind of way: women shaming other women for how they look, what they […]

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