Facebook is a giant melting pot for me. It’s a few friends from childhood, a lot of women who lift, a similar number of raver friends who love music and about 2,000 patients, nurses and other people I know from work. I think I’m currently at 2,986 “friends”.
But Instagram is just for me. I follow most of the people who compete at the highest national level, a lot of coaches and a ton of Russians. Well and a handful of cute baby animal accounts. I doubt they follow me back, but who cares? I derive an enormous amount of benefit from the content they provide.
But there’s a downside. Not to the kittens and the puppies -because seriously, whose day isn’t instantly brightened by a cute kitten pic?- but to the national level people.
I am 47 years old. I can only train 5-8 hours per week. I will never lift like they do. Not even in the same order of magnitude. A bodyweight snatch was the national record for the 53kg/45w class until just a few years ago. And I am not that record holder.
There is something demoralizing about seeing people casually outperform you. Watching your maxes barely register as their warm ups.
And it is that much worse if those people are clearly training under conditions you will never achieve. Whether that’s age, time, performance enhancing drugs, access to coaching and equipment – everything that can make a difference in reaching your ultimate potential.
All of those factors set up a false sense of expectations. It’s easy to be critical of your puny little lifts when you’re watching an 18yo whose last name is something-ova doing biceps curls with that weight. And being critical of your lifts can start a downward spiral of being self critical about other things. Your lifts suck so there’s something wrong with you, you’re lazy and weak and too dumb to follow a good program. And all that negativity will end up spilling over to your interactions with family and coworkers and friends.
I guess what I’m saying is that balance and perspective are kind of key when you hang out in the virtual world. You can learn something from almost everyone, even if they’re more of a cautionary tale than a paradigm. But thinking that you can copy the programming of someone who injects PEDs twice per day is illogical. Thinking you will hit numbers like someone half your age and twice your weight is illogical.
Find at least a few people who are actually like you. Masters if you are one, smaller women if you are one, adaptive athletes if you are one. Don’t look at the rock stars who are not your size, shape or gender and then use them as a barometer of your own worth.
One of the great gifts of this sport is that you only really have to compete against yourself. At the end of the day what you do on the platform is only influenced by the work you put in, the talent the lord gave you and whether or not you slept well the night before.
Choose your heroes wisely. Stand awestruck at their achievements but don’t forget that misses are rarely posted on social media, only the spectacular makes.
Then you go on and just do you. Really, at the end of the day, that’s the only thing you can do.