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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Social Media: Some good, a lot of bad, and way too much ugly

There are a lot of good things that come from social media. We can connect with people we have lost touch with. We can unite as a group (runners!!) with a comment interest. We can promote a good cause.
Sadly though, what social media does best is makes us feel bad about ourselves and makes us feel negatively towards others.

This isn't just my opinion, although I can unquestionably support the truth behind this based on my own experience. I have spent way too much time feeling bad about myself as a result of comparing myself to others based on their Instagram or Facebook versions of themselves. And there are several people I have started feeling negatively about or have become completely annoyed with because of their IG and FB posts.

It isn't just me though. There are actual studies that can back me up on the negative impact social media can have. I have read dozens of articles reviewing many different studies that show the overwhelmingly negative (vs. positive) effects of social media.

It is our responsibility to use social media wisely, to use it to our benefit and betterment. Here are a few ways I try to do that:

Be an active, not passive, user. Many of the studies show that people who actively participate in posting and commenting have higher self worth than those who spend time just looking at what other people post. So don't be a stalker.

Focus on your real-life relationships. Don't let spending time on social media be more important than spending time with people face to face. You can't cultivate the depth in a relationship through Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram that you can by sitting down with someone, spending real, quality time with them. Also don't let social media affect your mood or attitude negatively so much that you take it out on those around you, those people who really do love and care about you.

Be honest. And real. In all the things you post about yourself. And PLEASE think before you comment. Remember, other people will read your comments. I had a wise friend in high school who told me, "Don't ever write down something you don't want everyone to read." Also remember the things you say begin to mean less to people when you throw sentiments around carelessly. I could write a whole post about the things people put in their comments, but I'll just leave it at that.

I know this post doesn't have much to do with running. In fact, other than an awesomely fun race I ran on Saturday, running isn't my best friend lately. But I just felt like I had to get this out there.
Last but not least, I'm taking a little break from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I don't know how long the break will be, I just know those things aren't adding enough positive to outweight the negative in my life right now.

(You can find the studies I read by searching for the effects of social media online, or I would be happy to share links to several of them via email.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The power of positive

I have put off posting because I felt like I needed to recap the past month. Yes, it's been a while. But then I realized no one is making me post a recap and there is no reason I can't just post and move forward. So while there was a lot of post-worthy action in the past month (Christmas, running in Arizona, New Year's Eve in Times Square, running in Central Park, etc.), I'm taking the pressure off myself and just moving forward. If you are dying to see a little of my recent adventures, you can always check out my Instagram feed (@ihaverun).

My little Bean has riding lessons every Tuesday. Somewhere along the way, she decided her post-ride appetite warrants stopping for lunch on the way home each week. This week her restaurant of choice was Wendy's, and since her mom had ingested a large amount of liquid in the previous few hours and had to use the ladies room, we went inside to order. The girl taking our order was very friendly and also commented on how incredibly pretty Bean's eyes are (and yes, they truly are).

After we left the restaurant, I got thinking about what a difference it makes when someone is friendly. It affects so many people in a positive way. That girl has the power to influence the day of many different people. By choosing to be happy, polite, helpful and friendly, she has chosen to influence them in a positive way. Even without complimenting my girl, my Bean and I would have left in the same happy, satisfied moods.

A positive attitude -- my own -- also affected my run yesterday. I spent the first few miles complaining to myself about the cold, cursing the weatherman for saying it was going to be partly sunny because there wasn't a lick of sunshine in sight, and wondering why in the world I am training for another marathon when I don't really love them and seven miles seems far enough most days. Then I forced myself to snap out of it. I spent the rest of my run thinking about some of the amazing runs I had over the summer and about the day I qualified for Boston. And I finished my run strong, happy and ready to tackle the next 14 weeks of marathon training head on!



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