Human beings need boundaries.
We build fences to keep our dogs from running into the street. We put walls in the median to prevent collisions but fail to protect our minds from what we consume on our phones.
Our feeds are lined with beautiful places, wealthy lifestyles, and even sexualized bodies. Each of these can provide a distraction or entertainment through the release of dopamine. Dopamine can feel addictive.
That’s why a quick check for new messages can turn into a twenty-minute scroll fest and no hot water left in the shower you left running. You start small and scroll a little at a time until you’re lost in the screen.
Less a traumatic event, beliefs are also built or destroyed a little at a time. I remember the first time I saw a kid with muscles in high school. I didn’t want to be like him. I didn’t not want to be like him either. He was just another person.
But over time, I saw more marketing that praised bodybuilders, abs, and bodies that resembled Greek gods on TRT. We boys were taught that “this is what girls want.” So I began working out and believed that muscles mattered more to my girlfriend than having a smart, kind, and generous boyfriend.
Now that I’m older, I’m keenly aware that neither big muscles nor being extra creative will make me whole. But knowing what I want to be in the world feels good in a way that an app can’t tell me.
It took me 20 years to realize that social media was just the new generation’s favorite men’s or women’s health magazine, mostly curated content with just a sprinkle of reality that slipped by the editors.
*I say this fully acknowledging I’ve contributed to some of the biggest health magazines in the world. I know, guys. I was on the dark side. But I’ve grown.
If you add up all the times during those 20 years that I could have loved myself more despite not being picture-perfect, well, you’d have close to 20 years.
That’s time and self-love I can’t get back, but also time spent learning who I wasn’t. By chance, social media altered my trajectory for the better.
Social media became redeeming with I found CrossFit, which is infectious and shared by millions on social media.
CrossFit is a workout program that prioritizes performance over looks. Your value isn’t in how ripped or “attractive” you are but in your work ethic. We score workouts using time or reps. You keep that score until you repeat the workout and see your fitness improve.
CrossFit gave me something more authentic to reach for. I may not have had the smartest or most symmetrical head on my shoulders. But I could work hard. There’s a competitive nature to it, but for the most part, it’s healthy. Only a few people struggle to separate their own value from their score. Most outgrow this roadblock.
So, what do you do with social media?
Use it to build a community around something you’re passionate about. I love CrossFit. I’m in groups where I frequently share what I know and encourage people to grow themselves using the program. It’s led me to mentoring gyms and making friends across the world that I get to see in person, whether it’s at their kitchen table in Stockholm or the CrossFit Games in the States.
Follow people who inspire you to grow.
If you look at my following list on Instagram, you’ll see a lot of my friends and clients. But only a few people are fitness, sales, or self-improvement experts. These are areas I want to grow.
Self-appointed gurus are a dime a dozen on social media. Anyone can withdraw all their cash, rent a yacht, and strippers to make you believe they you should listen to them….okay may only Dan Bilzerian would do that…or maybe it was a dream I had, anyway.
Give > Recieve.
I love to make people laugh. I love to give high fives and fist bumps. I’ll hold the door open for people who aren’t remotely near entering the doorway. I’m a giver.
It may be the recovering people-pleaser in me, but I light up when I feel useful, so I write long posts that I hope may help someone going through something similar to what I’ve gone through. That’s my schtick, but yours could be make-up tutorials, unboxing videos, music, beautiful art or even ugly art that someone else finds beautiful or useful. (I have a calendar of dogs taking poops. I promise it was a gift.)
One of my favorite accounts is a persone who draws comics of silly little animals talking. @theycantalkcomics has made many a frown turn upside down for me.
Someone who found a post I wrote about auditioning for a play messaged me that they signed up for singing lessons they’d kept putting off after reading my post. I haven’t seen them on a stage yet, but I did see a youtube of them vulnerably playing guitar, and that’s pretty killer.
Dont underestimate what you can give. It’s less about you and more about someone who values what you made.
Don’t do drugs (At least not the bad ones. You know the bad ones).
Don’t be nosy.
Don’t spend your life on the phone.
Invest in the things that make life worthwhile: Real smiles. Eye Contact. Laughter with friends. Trips to nowhere special with people who are.
Life isn’t happening on the phone. It’s happening just behind it.