I don’t know about you, but I find the internet, Facebook, blogs and so on to be a great disappointment. Once anything gets serious on social media, it becomes less and less social. We are promised that there’s a great collective consciousness out there, ready to debate, discuss, and discover new things. We can read opinion on blogs and then discus it on twitter. We can open our minds to new methods and discover what others think. I’m particularly talking about the Fitness industry here, though I’m sure you can recognise this stuff in a lot of things.
I don’t find social media to be all that social. Instead of this social interaction, what happens is that someone writes a declarative piece, then a like minded group of individuals click “like” and comment “you de man”. When there is dissent or disagreement, it’s usually either shouted down or is equally declarative. That’s not social. If we sat in a coffee shop around a table, one guy wouldn’t declare his opinion, then shut up shop while everyone else agreed. Social conversations start with things like “Do you know what I think?” and not “Here’s something you don’t know and I do, shut up and listen”. And of course I’m not just referring to good fitness practices. Bloggers (and I’m aware of the irony of saying this on a blog) in the fitness industry at least, are essentially a community of middle class 20-30 year olds who attempt to be philosophers. Instead of “Try to do more scapular retraction work”, fitness industry bloggers write “Try to live every day like it was your last”, or “Follow your dreams”. There are exceptions of course, but too often blogs are just drivel written to pat yourself on the back for doing a good job. How does this blog measure up I wonder? I’ve written declaratively for sure, but I’d like to think it’s only been when I’ve had something to declare. I’m open to discussion and I do like to think that I accept valid criticisms in good spirit. I’ve never thought of this blog as an organ for spreading my opinions however, more as a method of keeping myself amused… while spreading my opinions. But then again, there’s a good chance you’ve read the last paragraph and thought immediately that this blog fits the description.
Forums after a while become back slapping parties. I used to discuss stuff on forums, now I don’t bother. There must be an examination of the lifecycle of internet fora somewhere on the internet. For me they are doomed to become circle jerks, with everyone eventually agreeing with the most knowledgeable obnoxious guy. You don’t have to be right, you just have to be enough of a bully enough times to people so that no one will even bother disagreeing with you again. Let’s say I say exercise X increases power. You believe that Y increases power more effectively. In our mythical coffee shop, we would have this discussion, and we may agree that we’re both right in some cases, or you may convince me you’re right or vice versa. We’d also get to drink some nice coffee. On the internet, the person with 1) the most free time to look up studies, 2) the most obnoxious manner (ie. the person most willing to try to make a fool out of the other person) and 3) the most pictures of cats will win. He or she will say 1) X is more effective, look at what I found on pubmed, so you see 2) you don’t really know what you’re on about I can’t believe you even bothered arguing and anyway 3) Stupid Cat is stupid at internets. Once that person has shouted the other down, then others are wary of debating or expressing an opinion. It’s a bit tiresome. One of the best decisions I have ever made is not to even read them anymore.
I’m not sure if I’m recommending or ranting here. I doubt one blog post of mine is going to make a lick of difference in the modes of internet debate, but there has to be others like me out there, tired of the above. Maybe we can all try to be a little more social with our social media.