A 2018 study looked at the impact of fitness posts via social media. What is potentially interesting is the reader’s psychology ultimately determined whether they found the posts inspiring or demotivating.
This is related to social comparison theory and generally thought to include two types:
1. Upward comparisons - “If they can do it, so can I”
Seeing someone in better shape or doing something they can’t do generally inspires them to believe that they could do the same in time.
2. Downward comparisons - “Well at least I’m not as fat as David”
Seeing someone in better shape can make them feel bad about themselves. Compares themselves to people in a worse situation to make themselves feel better.
Clearly it is advantageous to make upward comparisons and to believe in yourself. What is really important to keep in mind is that the people you hang about with most will influence whether you tend to make upward or downward comparisons. So pick your team wisely and don’t feel guilty for avoiding the negative influences in your life.
Comparing yourself with other people’s social media highlight reels is always going to be dangerous as no one can be good at everything. Ultimately I think it comes down to how you feel about yourself and having realistic expectations. If you don’t love yourself, you’re going to find ways to validate your reality and make unrealistic comparisons to others.
Personally I think people should create social posts for themselves, as you’ll never be able to please everyone anyway. However it’s worth bearing in mind for all PTs out there that when working with clients, the forms of motivation that work for them can vary greatly.
How do you feel about social media? Do you always find it motivating or do you have days when it can make you feel worse?