I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love it for the power it has to connect us, and for its use as a knowledge-sharing platform. It's also an enormous source of inspiration for billions of people around the world.
You've undoubtedly heard the term 'influencers' before – individuals who have an above average impact on niche markets (like fitness). These are normal people with big voices online, and they're passionate about motivating their followers, and sharing daily their experience and know-how, just like our cover girl, Instagram phenomenon and self-styled 'queen of workouts', Alexia Clarke. Personally, I love her vibe and how she approaches her workouts. The moves aren't quite the norm, but they're just as effective and they keep training fun. If you haven't already, check out her @alexia_clark Instagram account, which is fast approaching the 1,000,000 followers mark.
However, before you get sucked down the social media rabbit hole, so to speak, it's worth discussing the negative aspects of our online lives. Social media can be a double-edged sword as it's also a source of intense negativity, especially when a possible lack of diversity in your online community reinforce stereotypes or ideologies.
Negative sentiments derived from #fakenews and disinformation from pervasive myths can also be amplified in the 'echo chamber' of our feeds, and can become extremely disruptive to our lives. In the context of health and fitness, social media is often manipulated to portray an unrealistic lifestyle or unattainable ideals. In fact, many of the expectations that social media creates and shapes about what constitutes the ideal female form are downright ridiculous.
How, then, do you strip out the negative aspects of social media to get more of its goodness? Well, just like your mother told you as a kid, choose your friends wisely! Be discerning in who you choose to give your time and attention to online. Hold the people and brands you follow online to the high standards you impose on those in your 'real' life. And don't believe everything you read. Approach social media with a healthy dose of scepticism, and do your research before clicking 'share', otherwise you too help to perpetuate the problem.
And on the point of time and attention, don't get sucked into this world every time you check your smartphone. It can become a major distraction in life that takes you away from what's most important, like spending quality time with friends and family, or time with those dumbbells and treadmill at gym.
Don't let social media detract from life. Rather choose to use it as a tool for enrichment. Filter out the negative elements and focus on the positives. Let it be a source of knowledge and inspiration. Allow it to add value to your life, your fitness and your health by tapping into the wealth of content offered up by those who can truly be considered positive influencers.