I recently read this blog about the effect of social media on Australian sport (Link: “Potential versus Performance). Since social media has a very pronounced role in the CrossFit community, I think that the idea that behavior and feedback received on the social media somehow affect sports performance is interesting.
The following is based solely on my observations, and I’m not pointing fingers at anyone specific. I’m not even sure if there really is a ‘problem’, and if there is, I’m not saying that I didn’t help start it J
Some points from the article mentioned above just reminded me of certain situations in the online CrossFit community. With quotes taken from the article, I’ll draw my own parallels.
WRITING YOUR OWN PRESS
“a player can have a couple of good games and instantly become recognizable to many in the public eye… With the introduction of Twitter and Instagram, it gives a sportsman the ability to write their own press.”
This certainly has a parallel in CrossFit. All you need is to place well in a couple of local competitions, and suddenly you’re a local star. Follow up on the attention with a training blog (I’m fully aware that I myself have a blog, thanks) and you can pretty much keep the buzz going. This kind of self-promotion can be used to get in touch with sponsors, get feedback from training peers etc. and suddenly you have created a kind of atmosphere around yourself, creating the impression that you are a semi-professional athlete.
THE TWO-HEADED MONSTER
“The problem is once you invite people into your world, you invite their judgments, criticisms and opinions. Being recognized can bring just as much hate as admiration and being connected 24/7 to social media offers no respite.”
In Denmark, we have something called “Jantelov”. It’s basically the concept, that no one should get the impression that he (or she) is better than others. When you put yourself ‘out there’ in the public sphere – you must learn to deal with the fact that a certain percentage of people secretly or openly want you to fail. In women-watching-other-women situations, the percentage skyrockets. You might tell yourself that you don’t care about other people’s opinion. You’re lying. I mean, there’s a reason why you started ‘going public’ in the first place. The real interesting question is: Can you separate your ‘CF-life’ from your real life, or will you let the negative voices get to you? Once you start getting attention, you have no choice but to deal with it. You have no control over the impression people get from seeing your stuff (pictures, videos etc.) online. If you let the negative feedback take control over your mood, you might even lose the motivation or joy of training.
THE WORLD WHERE YOU CAN’T BE HUMBLED
” (…) It is a tragedy because he could have been great, but he is in a world where he can’t be humbled. If he plays badly or is warned by his coach to pick up his form he will just seek validation from others – and where better to find that but on social media.”
This is the real danger as I see it, and where social media can really screw up your training progress. In order to be great in any sport, you need to work on your weaknesses – not once in a while – BUT OFTEN. In weightlifting, I’m only really good at two exercises: Something about getting the weight overhead, and another thing about getting the weight overhead. I probably squat the same as a 10-year-old Chinese girl and couldn’t produce an effortless clean if my life depended on it. I remember one day my ‘borrow coach’ (I call him that because he coaches really talented athletes and then looks at me between their sets) told me: “In reality, I shouldn’t let you do more push presses for the next 2 years”. The point is, it’s a waste of time training something you’re really good at, if you have other areas that really need work.
Let’s say that I had a training blog. I probably would be more inclined to post a video of my 70 kg push-press or 85 kg rack-jerk, than my sorry excuse for 5×5 back squats at 75 kg. In this way, having a ‘world where you can’t be humbled’ can skew your training focus to be more about things that you are good at. Just saying.
PERFORMANCE VERSUS POTENTIAL
“Having the potential to be the best doesn’t mean anything until you are the best. Take a good look at yourself and stop seeking false validation through overexposure. Put your phone down ,forget ‘checking in’ to the ivy pool bar, limit your twitter posts to a minimum , drop the Instagram selfies and apply yourself. You never know, one day you might be great.”
This post was about the potential pit-falls of social media overexposure. I’m not saying that it can’t be really beneficial to share your training with like-minded and to be part of a great community. Just remember that you are accountable only to yourself (and perhaps your coach and your country), not to a whole online society. When you interact with others online, they only see the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and not the WHOLE person, so don’t care about their criticism. Get the work done, do the boring stuff, mind your bedtime and stay humble. After all, it’s more fun to be great IRL. – Ditte