How the Internet changed Bodybuilding, part 2: Social Media
Last time, I talked about the many ways that the Internet changed bodybuilding. I’d like to conclude that discussion today with a more recent Internet development that has had an equally massive impact – social media.
Just a few years ago, there was no social media. Then MySpace and Facebook came along and blazed the trail, followed soon after by Twitter, and now Instagram. I know there are even more, but these are the biggest (though MySpace has long ago faded away) and the ones that get the most traffic.
Instagram seems to have even overtaken Facebook in popularity, because it’s used to post photos and very short videos. This was a perfect match for those of us who hit the gym every day working on our bodies. Progress pictures, selfies, and video clips of gym lifting were something we were very eager to embrace. I’ve spoken before about the types of people who get into bodybuilding and fitness. A small percentage are former athletes who are merely continuing a life of athletic competition. The vast majority are those who come to the physique sports looking for attention, validation, and praise. That was me, so please don’t think I’m picking on or judging any of you out there.
The good side of this social media is that it provides a platform for those who need encouragement or validation to receive it. It also allows many a constant source of motivation and inspiration by following those who they wish to emulate. That’s why some social media stars like DLB, aka Dana Linn Bailey, have nearly half a million followers on Instagram, and millions of likes and followers on their Facebook pages. As for the encouragement and acknowledgement factors, many need it on a regular basis while they follow their fitness path.
And that leads into a bad aspect of social media. Many who post are incredibly needy and need a ‘pat on the back’ for every little thing they do. They feel the need to post about every trip to the gym for weights or cardio, every single clean meal they eat, and any time they avoid eating or drinking something not conducive to their fitness goals. They post pictures every day in the same place, posing the same way, hundreds or more photos that are all nearly identical. They base their self worth on how many ‘likes’ their photos get.
Men will receive more ‘legitimate’ likes and comments from fellow lifters. There will be occasional female and male admirers too, but the nature of women is that they don’t overtly lust after men too often. We men however, are a different breed, highly visual and often with stronger sex drives. And unfortunately for many women out there, they will be the recipients of many comments and private messages that will range from very flirty, to lewd, to disrespectful and vulgar. In other words, the creeps will be all over them.
Some women do seem to invite the worst types, by posting up pics where you can see almost every part of their anatomy. Then they get upset when the creepy types make sexual comments and try to engage them in filthy exchanges. Word to the wise ladies – post up very racy pics, and you will attract those types from all over the world.
As for the video clips, there are some very impressive lifts out there. There are also many cases where the person is using far too much weight and not doing the exercise with proper form. Most of that happens on YouTube.
All in all, social media is a good thing. It allows all of us who pursue the fitness lifestyle to communicate and share thoughts and images with each other, exchange information, to motivate, and be motivated. It can legitimately be considered the second great breakthrough in the Internet since the Internet itself began about 20 years ago.
And before I go, I have to insert a shameless plus to subscribe to my YouTube channel RonHarrisMuscle. It has a few hundred videos now going back about 7 years, with all types of contest. More recently, I have used to make short instructional videos on exercise variations I have come up with or learned from others.