Culture

Beginner’s Luck: Avoiding Social (Media) Anxiety

Social media is one of my favorite things in the world. Social media is also one of my most hated things in the world.

Social media is one of my favorite things in the world. Social media is also one of my most hated things in the world.

I find incredible inspiration, ideas, snacks(!) and recipes on Instagram and Facebook. I love the quick tidbits on Twitter. I catch up with old friends, see cute babies and dogs. Social media is also a great place to learn when someone is having a hard time, needs help or is hurting. All in all, social can be a wonderful tool for any person—when used in the right ways.

Social media for triathlon is a lot of fun, too—you learn who is doing what races, how their training is coming along, where all the cool kids are hanging out and what they are wearing (this week). There are wonderful training tips, updates on the latest gear, and more.

At the same time, social media for triathlon can be a bear—and not the good kind of bear.

For several years, I would allow certain posts, things and accounts to get to me—and it could be for a wide range of reasons. In this social media age, we all have those accounts and people that really simply don’t help our mental health, whether we want to admit it or not.

Perhaps the person or company hurt us, lied to us, made fun of us, or is one of the “frenemy” variety. Maybe a particular social media account just makes us feel like we are failing, like there is no hope, or we are lost and behind. There’s many reasons to feel “ugh,” about social media, and none of us really talk about it.

I found myself feeling recently that I was failing to find the inspiration and motivation from some facets of social media. Instead, I was seeing feeds of friends who were no longer real friends. I was seeing my own failures, my own insecurities. I would compare myself to X person who was doing X race and suck in my breath, thinking, “I am literally going to make a fool out of myself with this race.” I would see Sally and Bobby running 24 miles and think, man, I am so behind it’s not even funny.

Then I realized! Wait a minute. I have a choice!

And why am I allowing social media to bother me? I can control what I see and do! I can find amazing and inspiration triathlon accounts to follow and read! I can only follow triathletes and friends and family who inspire me, who make me happy!

What a novel idea!

I sorted my feed to add positivity to my life. I followed people who I do not know in real life, but they take great pictures and post funny things—so they are little rays of sunshine to my day—like foodies. (Who doesn’t like a lovely plate of something in their feed?) That doesn’t mean that I am dramatic about culling down my feed, but I just choose what I see.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to forget that social media is a choice—that we are masters of our own computers and phones. We can easily make declarations to use social for good, not evil. Of course, maybe some stuff eeks in that we don’t want or need to see, but for the most part, we can manage it.

Using social media to share our workouts, our successes and our failures is one of the most wonderful things about the medium. I love that inspiration can be found everywhere, wonderful people lurking in our feeds and making us laugh and smile. But we often find a little more swim, bike, and run inspiration and joy when we choose positivity, truth, and happiness over competition, snubbery, and drama.

Nobody’s got time for “social anxiety,” right? We all have workouts to do and much swim, bike, run and fun to have!

Here are some of my favorites on Instagram.
Triathlete Magazine
Tri Chicks
Women for Tri
Rachel Joyce
Andy Potts
And of course, Doug the Pug

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. You can download a free copy of the book here. She is the host of the iTunes podcast, “The Same 24 Hours,” a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. Meredith lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and writes about all things at MeredithAtwood.com, and follow in social everywhere @SwimBikeMom.