Midweek arrives and I grapple with whether I should go running. I have a love/hate relationship with running. I love the idea of it; usually late at night when I can’t actually go for a run, but imagine how nice it will feel and how I will get that familiar ache afterwards, of muscles expended. This usually coincides with some time browsing Pinterest or Instagram where I see some fit person looking motivated. But then the morning comes, I wake and think: maybe I won’t run. I go through this internal monologue every time ‘shall I? shan’t I?’ until I force myself to commit. Go for a run Lou.
The browsing of images though – the Pinterest boards, tumblrs and Instagram feeds – they are suggestive; pervasive even. The sphere of influence that I am subject to every time I swipe refresh on my phone is unreal, when you stop and think about it. And it’s not media in the traditional sense; these are not all brands vying for my loyalty and my money, these are friends and acquaintances, people I am associated with or know of. Some are celebrities or ambassadors for whatever it is they do.
I am a self-confessed Pinterest freak – and actually would say that of all social media environments, it is one that harbours (as far as I can see) the least hate. On the whole it’s good stuff and that is why I like it. Some of it saccharine sweet, for sure. But on the whole good and honest.
I’ve written before about the more subversive side of social media sites – the subterranean world of Instagram that isn’t talked about, but is very much there. I see that the positive influences I look at can be just as powerful as the negative images that others look at. I occasionally stalk Instagram like some sort of bizarre reverse-troll. If I see something bad and negative – an account devoted to self harm or self-loathing – I report them! Honestly, you couldn’t stand on a street corner showing off and glorifying pictures of suicide without being moved on, why should it be tolerated on line? Making things change in the world is all about many people taking action. If everyone did the same thing, maybe these accounts with names like ‘wrecked mind’ or ‘slowly drowning’ would close down. Maybe young girls wouldn’t feel compelled to attract thousands of followers every day. Impressionable kids who don’t appreciate the perversion of clicking ‘like’ to a picture that illustrates deep suffering.
So my idea is this: surround yourself with positive stuff. Good images. Happy people. When it gets hard don’t get into the spiral of self-doubt. Get instead some resilient strategy to feel better. Walk the dog. Call a friend. Watch trashy, light-hearted TV. Go for a run. Anything but what lurks underneath and on line. Make the suggestive image a good one, not a bad one.
I know I sound rant-y. I know it. But the enormity of this access-all-areas Internet mess that we have created is overwhelming! There is always a counter-argument that for all the badness on the web, there is also good. There is kindness and camaraderie. There is finding your tribe. There is blogging and all the goodness that comes from it. I completely accept that the very thing I enjoy and exploit, in writing this, is also the subject of deep worry and concern for me. Bittersweet.
Surely the rule of thumb should be: focus on the good? Ditch the bad…