Social Media: Encourager or Enabler

by Ken Mueller on October 12, 2012 · 53 comments

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I like to watch people. When I’m in public I’ll just sit there and observe people, how they behave, and how they interact with others. I try to figure out things about them and their life.

I do the same thing online, particular as I look through my Twitter feed and Facebook newsfeed.

One thing I notice a lot is how social media has become a sort of support group for many of us. My friend Lindsay is currently in her second week of trying to quit smoking, and while I’ve never smoked, I can tell the quitting part isn’t easy for her. But with social media, Lindsay has her own cadre of cheerleaders and encouragers. Her online friends, many of whom she’s probably never met in person, are good about asking her how she’s doing, encouraging her to hang in there, and sometimes offer tips from their own experience.

The cheerleading and encouragement doesn’t stop there. I have plenty of friends who are runners, some new and some seasoned. The runners get encouragement from non-runners, and those who are new to running get support from the old timers. Plenty of encouragement to go around as they have their own type of bonding.

And then there are the dieters. Those who are trying to adhere to some sort of diet in order to shed some pounds and get in shape. Again, encouragement abounds, as my friends share tips, on top of stories of both success and failure.

As one who could stand to lose a bit of weight, and who needs to get into shape, I see these folks and think,

“Why can’t I do that?”

I just don’t seem to have the drive and willpower that many of them have. But it’s not due to the lack of encouragement. I blame the enablers.

You know, the ones who post that picture of the pie they’re eating, just as I determine I’m going to buckle down. The ones who talk about the amazing bacon wrapped delicacy they are preparing for dinner, the moment I reach for the salad. They are cruel, cruel people.

I’ve tried the Couch to 5K running program, but I gave up. The couch always seems so much more appealing than the 5K.

I’ve tried to eat more carefully, but everything always looks so good!

I suppose I could break my online friends up into two lists: Encouragers and Enablers. I could hide the status updates of enablers, and only look at the inspirational comments from those who want to help me lose weight and get in shape. And yet…I’ll still know that the enablers are there, and in just one click I can be drooling over all of the recipes they are posting, complete with full color pictures in all their Instagrammy glory.

And so, here I am, with encouragers on one shoulder, and my enablers on the other, tugging away at my allegiance, trying to pull me to their respective sides. Right now the enablers are winning, so I’ll just blame it on the power of social media.

How have you experienced either encouragement or enabling via social media?

 

 Social Media: Encourager or Enabler
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49 comments
tpomone
tpomone

This goes right along with something my dear friend Colleen and I like to call FOMS - fear of missing something. You've committed to a night in to save money and relax when all the sudden you see all the fun things people are doing and are instantly compelled to leave the house and join the party, sometimes quite literally. 

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

I am encouraged and inspired regularly, and also challenged professionally. Running a small agency I've become dependent upon the exchange of ideas with other professional marketer types.  But I've learned to be careful - I have to stay away from the negative, and in this political season I'm as guilty as anybody for being sucked into meaningless political arguments.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

As someone who exercises every day (obsessively) and is careful about everything I put in my mouth, I am a big proponent of getting off that couch, even if it's just to walk. I just read a study that shows those of us who sit behind computers all day are at high risk of heart disease than even the obese. They recommend walking 5,000 steps per day, just to keep the blood flowing and get off your butt. Why not buy yourself a pedometer and start there? 

The thing is, when you start, you feel so much better about yourself, that if you miss a day, you feel crummy. And when you start eating healthfully, your body starts to reject the junk food. You can still eat pie and bacon...you'll find you just eat it less. Heck, I ate an entire box of Milk Duds at the movie last night! But I burn a gazillion calories a day so it was a reward.

Latest blog post: #FollowFriday: Adam Toporek

magriebler
magriebler

As a social media newbie, I've been pleasantly surprised by all the encouragement I'm getting. I really had no expectation that people would be so nice/kind/(your word choice here) when there's no clear benefit to them.

 PS I have to say I was a bit thrown by the couch reference. I thought you were always out on the porch, in a rocking chair. (This what your Spin Sucks bio said about you yesterday.) Is there a couch? Does the couch rock? Thanks for clarifying.

belllindsay
belllindsay

I frigging LOVE this post!! Made me laugh out loud. Absolutely brilliant. Now I know who to blame for all the weight *I'm* gaining!! It's you horrible food porn lovers!! Seriously though, I often feel a bit "less than" because I don't run marathons or ride a bike for hours daily (like some of my friends *koff* @Gini Dietrich ) - but then I just say "Hey, that's just not me" - but like @RebeccaTodd said below, I can take the steps that suit me to be healthier, or whatever. I think the key takeaway here is that you don't have to be 'same as' - but you can certainly get inspiration or tips etc., from your online friends! Bring on the pie!!!

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

The worst part is no matter what influences are available, the final decision comes down to me and my own will power. So while watching my friends train for marathons hasn't encouraged me to run again, watching @belllindsay kick smoking's ass has encouraged me to give up my one beloved daily cigarette. So I'm counting that a victory and eating dark chocolate for breakfast. 

emilykantner
emilykantner

I think Pinterest may be the worst. You'll see tons of links to healthy recipes and workout programs, then a recipe for triple chocolate cake....the cake usually wins.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@tpomone Ha. that works for people in your age range. You're a more social creature than I am. And that's a big part of what Foursquare has tried to cultivate. Now I just have to make you feel like you're missing something down here!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@AmyMccTobin I try to avoid politics as well. Most of my rants tend to be very bipartisan, anti-both sides, rather than choosing a side. 

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich Well, I'm not completely sedentary. Shadow gets a two-mile walk every morning, and sometimes another mile in the afternoon if the weather is nice. And we have a 3-story house (4 if you include the basement) so I do a lot of stairs throughout the day. And in general Becky makes sure we eat pretty healthy.

Mostly I just need to shed 15-20 pounds to feel a bit more lively, and I HATE exercise.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@RebeccaTodd Want to train for a Tough Mudder? ;) Because I apparently have a death wish, I'm signing up for one in April. I'm going to call the team "Prepare to Die." It works in both the case that I die or that I defeat the course. More likely, my one teammate (@mrdancohen ) will have to drag me across the finish line.

Dark chocolate for breakfast sounds good to me.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@emilykantner Someone was just making fun of me the other day because I pin tons of strength and core exercises for my winter training and then a triple fudge chocolate cake recipe. It's a good balance! :)

Latest blog post: #FollowFriday: Adam Toporek

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@emilykantner Oh yeah, I forgot about Pinterest. That place is loaded with all sorts of wonderful foods!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Erin F. @magriebler Social media is great for encouragement. And yes, I do work from my porch, at least when it's nice out. A bit too chilly now. And there is no rocker, per se. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

 Have the pie AFTER you exercise. It's your reward for doing something good for your body instead of sitting on the couch and eating pie.

Latest blog post: #FollowFriday: Adam Toporek

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@magriebler @ginidietrich i dunno. to try to do the steps that way could be precarious. they are kinda steep and narrow. I fall from time to time just walking on them!

magriebler
magriebler

@ginidietrich @KenMueller So easy, so measurable. And every step is a small victory. If you and Shadow are out a couple of times a day, you're well on your way.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

@RebeccaTodd @ginidietrich ANYBODY can become addicted to exercise... I only started running again last June after a 1.5 year lazy hiatus, and I'm totally addicted again.  I jones for my run like I used to jones for a cigarette a couple of decades ago.   The food porn producers DO get me sometimes, but I'm seduced more often by the winos I know:)

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