Spaghetti monster knows that we have a love hate relationship with social media, but we wanted to explain the risk vs reward this week. We’re approaching this episode a little differently, so we’ll give the pros AND the flip side of our topics today and then expand on our thoughts. Buckle up!

The internet can be a great way to get information out, very quickly. It can also help widely spread MISINFORMATION. We won’t be getting political today, so we’ll discuss how this applies to the fitness and nutrition space and how it can positively and negatively affect a journey.

  1. Anyone anywhere can post a video with information and people somewhere will believe it, no matter how wrong it is. Don’t believe me? There are videos lying to people about carbs, exercise, and even hydration out there on the internet. It’s your job to verify those people aren’t bullshit
    • Have you heard of media literacy? If you’ve listened to this podcast for a while, you’ve heard us mention it a time or two. It teaches individuals to apply critical thinking to media messages and to use media to create their own messages. We live in the age of Google. 
  2. Don’t believe that folks are getting their information from the internet/social media? Well, in 2020, 78.5% of traditional media reporters polled used social media to check for breaking news. 59% of Twitter users and 31% of Facebook users polled followed breaking news on these sites. Social media sites are one of the top news sources for 46% of Americans, compared to 66% for television, 26% for printed newspapers, and 23% for radio. Social media users have been responsible for reporting events before traditional media outlets.
    • The downside of this is that misinformation spreads faster and further than the truth, more often than not. From that same poll we just mentioned: 64% of people who use Twitter for news say that they have encountered something they “later discovered wasn’t true,” and 16% of Twitter news users say that “they had retweeted or posted a tweet they later discovered to be false.” A study published in the journal Science found that lies spread six times faster than the truth on Twitter, and “fake news” is retweeted more often than true news.
    • This doesn’t just apply to news, this applies to just about anything. Including and maybe specifically in the fitness and nutrition arena. Snake oil sells faster than unsexy, factual information, unfortunately.
  3. If something sounds weird, look it up using reputable sources like Mayo Clinic, WebMD, LiveStrong, or any other peer reviewed studies. 

The interwebs can help folks improve their relationships and make new friends! It also can isolate and harm your relationships in real life. 

  1. Making new friends online is awesome. You get to meet your kindred spirit weirdos, regardless of where you are physically. 
    • Some nerdy stats: 93% of adults on Facebook use it to connect with family members, 91% use it to connect with current friends, and 87% use it to connect with friends from the past. 72% of all teens connect with friends via social media. 81% of teens age 13 to 17 reported that social media makes them feel more connected to the people in their lives, and 68% said using it makes them feel supported in tough times. 57% of teens have made new friends online. 
    • You can meet people that you probably wouldn’t ever have the opportunity to meet IRL because of the internet and the spaces that you find yourself in
    • Social media addiction is a real thing and it affects more people than you’d think. 
  2. A 2016 study found that overuse of social media as an adolescent may decrease success in relationships later in life as online communication hinders the development of conflict management skills and awareness of interpersonal cues. You forget how to talk to people in actual life.
    •  One study found that the more Facebook friends a person has, the more stressful Facebook is to use. Researchers have also found that “active Twitter use leads to greater amounts of Twitter-related conflict among romantic partners, which in turn leads to infidelity, breakup, and divorce.”
  3. If you find yourself feeling like you’re relying too much on the interwebs and social media apps, it may be a good opportunity to address that. If you are beginning to find that you’re comparing yourself too much to others or your self worth is diminishing because of what you’re seeing or interacting with online, it’s worth taking a step back or unfollowing pages or folks that are causing those emotions or reactions.

Your online experiences can help open your eyes to a new way of thinking and disarm stigmas. It can also help facilitate bullying.

  1. Being able to connect with people over things you thought were totally unique to you is a neat experience. There are so many communities I’ve found myself in that are amazing and the folks within those groups are uplifting and understanding of the struggles we all go through on this journey. Being able to connect in that way has really helped at times with self confidence and even motivation and accountability. 
  2. We’ve also learned a ton of amazing things from persons of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and from our friends in the fitness community. It really can be a great place sometimes. And sometimes the beauty of it is that you actually have to listen, and reflect and maybe even change your perspective because of having to listen, etc. Especially on an app like tiktok.
  3. Living in an echo chamber can be fun until you end up on the wrong side of the algorithm. 
    • Finding a community is cool, until they turn their back on you. This happens online a lot. You say one thing that was totally benign and someone takes offense and starts a flame war. 
      • Remember Gamergate? It was a loosely organized misogynistic online harassment campaign and right-wing backlash against feminism, diversity, and progressivism in video game culture that started in 2014.
      • It’s easy to get the pitchforks out online, please be cognizant about the online spaces you inhabit. There are a lot of wolves dressed up as sheep out there. 
    • And we’re talking about more than a few shitty subtweets. Doxxing, death threats, hacking your accounts… it can all happen if someone online decides they’re big mad at you. 
    • It’s easy to pile on someone you don’t agree with, but please remember no matter how much stupid bullshit the other party spouts, they’re still a person… unless they’re being a bigot. Ain’t NOBODY got time for that shit, shut it down immediately. 

There’s also another piece to this that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. Your data, and the way companies use the information they get from you just by being online. That can be very scary when you take a step back and really think about it critically.

  1. The purpose of this episode isn’t to scare you away from using social media but it is definitely supposed to poke your brain and help you start to use it differently or less. 
  2. Let’s talk about apps that use your information. Got ovaries? Use a period tracker? They could be using your ovulation information against you if you live in a state that doesn’t like abortions. They can also sell your information to other companies. 
    • Again, not saying “Don’t do this,” but be aware. 
  3. What about the almighty algorithm? Algorithm by definition is, “a coded formula written into software that, when triggered, prompts the tech to take relevant action to solve a problem,” it drives what you see on social media. 
    • Everyone’s is a little different. They’re custom-tailored to your app usage. 
  4. The downside of this? If you or your kid is obsessed with a topic, the apps know and will start feeding you more posts on the topic… good and bad. 
    • There’s hefty data that suggests that Instagram was funneling eating disorder posts to teenage users who have expressed interest in fitness and nutrition. Link is in show notes if you’d like to read more. 
  5. This quote from the medium article that is linked in the show notes sums up how companies view their online users really well: You’re dealing with some of the largest corporations in the world. They’re not designed to be of public benefit, they’re designed to make profit.You have to think about your information as one of many commodities on the platform, and you have to really think about how you want that information to be recorded, used, disseminated, bought, and sold. You have to really become aware. This next phase is an awareness that you’re in a commercial environment — you’re in a transaction — you’re not just hanging out with your friends. This is all about managing your transactional life.

Again, not saying this to freak anyone out, just wanting folks to be aware and consider some things  that we don’t maybe think about often enough. We’re so accustomed to using and being on the internet that I think it’s easy to pass by or not take certain things into consideration.



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