In response to this post about social media triggers, you guys shared a lot.
I heard from you all via email, text, in person, in comments on the post, and via Facebook about social media posts that, while on the surface are benign, get to you for some reason.
I promised then that we would revisit this idea, but then Camp MEOW happened. I haven’t forgotten about the conversation. If anything, I’ve had even more thoughts on the topic running through my head.
Before we dive deeper into how we handle our triggers, I wanted to share that I was kind of surprised no one mentioned a certain type of post – the “I’ve been exercising” post. It was, after all, a conversation on a mom’s board about this genre of Facebooking that started me down the path of thinking about what my own triggers are.
Try these on:
“Just finished an amazing yoga class. Namaste, y’all.”
“Brutal run, but made it all eight miles!”
“Found an amazing new spin class! So excited to have a T/Th class to add to my schedule.”
“PR’d at Crossfit today. I mean, WOW!”
Just to reiterate, or in case you haven’t read the first trigger post, no one is criticizing or judging anyone who posts about his or her exercise habits or routines. The whole idea of the trigger concept is that they aren’t posts that the poster would ever intentionally use to hurt or shame another person. Instead, because of our own baggage or issues or whatever, they get to us.
So, with the understanding that no one is saying people shouldn’t post about their exercise habits, I was curious as to whether or not reading these posts was a trigger for any of you out there. And, if so, why is that? Is it because you don’t have the time, energy, or money to pursue something like yoga, or Crossfit? Is it because self-care is in short supply right now, and these posts serve as a reminder to you of what you aren’t doing?
I’ll admit, I don’t enjoy seeing these types of posts. But they don’t trigger me emotionally as a person. Instead, as someone who works in the field, I worry that they make wellness and movement seem inaccessible.
We’ve moved away from a culture where we worked hard with our bodies every day. We’ve developed labor-saving devices and we pay other people to do our “heavy lifting” so to speak. And, our bodies have paid the price of our inactivity. So we supplement our days with “exercise” to make up for all the work we’re no longer doing.
In doing so, lots of systems of exercise have been developed. Most have a barrier to entry. Some of them require skills not everyone possesses, but they all require an investment of time and money.
I hate that we’ve come to this place, where people think in order to be “healthy” we need to pay for it. (Ironic, I know, since I’m one of the people getting paid to teach exercise.)
I’d like to shift the paradigm back to the place where we’re all just living and moving in our days, and that’s what keeps our bodies supple and strong. More walking to the places we need to go and less driving to the gym. Or Crossfit box. Or yoga studio.
That’s not to malign any of these systems. And it’s not to criticize people who engage in them. Again, my paycheck depends on people participating in group exercise. I just worry that the proliferation of “I’m doing THIS exercise” social media posts means that people think if they’re not able to do THIS, too, then health is out of their reach, so they just throw their hands up in the air and quit trying at all.
There’s a bigger theme here, of course, that has little to do with Facebook and Twitter. The larger question is this: Does our “health,” “wellness,” and/or “fitness” culture feed off elitism? If so, then what can we do to democratize movement again?
As I read this post one last time before I published, I realized that even having the luxury of worrying about this issue seems elitist. After all, there are plenty of people who work in extremely labor-intensive jobs for whom movement remains a crucial part of their day and their livelihood. But then I reflected on the number of conversations I have had with people who have labor-intensive jobs who, upon learning that I teach fitness, react by saying “I need to exercise more.” I always remind them how much work their bodies are doing every day, but still they don’t seem convinced. So, in the end, this reflection made me feel even more adamant that a paradigm shift needs to occur. After all, if the people who are actually doing hard labor don’t see that as exercise, or health-promoting, then clearly our cultural messages need tweaking. (For an example of a subset of people who labor all day and yet didn’t perceive of their work as health-promoting, go read this post again.)