Hey, you. Yeah, you. To anyone that’s posted more than one gym selfie in the past seven to 10 days – we’re here to help.
A couple of things have gotten out of hand in recent years, political charlatans, North Korea, ISIS…and selfies. Not that I’m the gold standard for anything (quite the opposite, in fact); however, I’ve never taken more than a week off from exercise since I went down that road ten years ago, and the number of gym selfies I’ve posted is under five.
Contrary to popular belief, spreading your likeness across the internet like a snowblower of vanity doesn’t actually trigger protein synthesis, or make your daddy tell you he loves you.
Our culture has sank knee-deep into a swamp of self justification, brought on by the rise of social media, and many’s inability to handle it. I get it, I really do. Some days it’s difficult to resist shouting to your friends about the savage tricep pump you had, or being secretly impressed by how on point your new workout gear is, but just stop right there. You’re not doing yourself any favors by spamming our newsfeeds with your yoga pant sporting ass, #fit #booty #beautiful.
This epidemic caught the attention of Tara C. Marshall, Katharina Lefringhausen, and Nelli Ferenczi, three researchers at Brunel University. I’m assuming they had a conversation much like this one:
“Hey Tara, when you scroll down instagram, do you have to wade through 18 f*cking ‘fit motivation’ posts, too?”
“Yeah!, Nelli Do you feel like sciencing the shit out of this?”
“You already know.”
Thank God these lab junkies had the mental clarity to see that this isn’t just a few 20-somethings who were never hugged as kids, rather an army of (mostly) young people with less combined self esteem than primetime TMZ.
“In line with Hypothesis 7, narcissism was positively associated with updating about achievements and with using Facebook for validation” (Marshall). That checks out; and what about self esteem? “Consistent with Hypothesis 6, people who were lower in self-esteem more frequently updated about their current romantic partner…and that people are more likely to post relationship-relevant information on Facebook on days when they feel insecure” (Marshall).
The theme analyzed with self esteem in this study was “relationship posts”; however, it’s easy to make the connection to other facets of the person’s life. I’ll actually throw these people a bone and posit these pathetic behavior patterns are only 80% their fault.
Let’s wrap it up on the next page
It’s not entirely their fault because anyone currently younger than 21 has been raised in an age of ubiquitous social media. It’s classic operant conditioning – you post a picture, said picture receives likes, viewing these likes releases dopamine associated with reward, said reward high fades, time to post next picture. It’s like being addicted to crack, but far more annoying for those around you.
Are we too far gone? Have we slipped so far down the rabbit hole that regurgitating throwback Thursdays of “when we were hot”, fresh with new filters is the status quo? I say not yet. The solution? Well, it’s quite simple – stop liking these useless expressions of self affirmation.
Take a tip from our daring scientists who ventured where no science has gone before, and think – do I have a problem? Much like AA, the first step is admission; but do us all a favor and skip the denial step. We’ve really seen enough already.
If you want to check out the original social media study, self educate here.