Social media, what did we do before it? Before smart phones? Before tablets? Before always being on? If I take a look at my phone there are literally so many social media apps on there.

*Facebook   *Instagram   *Twitter   *Snapchat   *LinkedIn   *Pinterest   *Flipagram   *Whatsapp

These are just a few of the social media related apps on my phone and I use most of them multiple times a day. There’s definitely an addictive quality to them. We can start to ‘live for likes’ rather than just live. I call this Social Needia. You get a little buzz when your posts get liked, commented on and shared, hence the addictive quality of it. If I don’t check myself I can literally refresh the feeds without thinking and all of a sudden an hour has gone, this is usually when I am in bed at night and meant to be going asleep.

It can be hard to see that most of the posts on these social media sites are so curated, edited and filtered! We start to compare ourselves, our lives, our bodies, our eyebrows, our wrinkles, our lifestyles, let’s be honest our everything with the photos we see. Getting likes and comments on social media posts is almost like getting picked for the A, B or C team or class. We feel inferior and wonder where we went wrong but we didn’t and we most definitely are not inferior.

A few months ago I was letting my social media get to me quite a lot, it was causing me to become very anxious and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I completely understand the need for social media in todays society particularly from a business point of view. It is a quick and immediate way of getting your message, company, brand etc out there. In the industry that I am in, fitness it is a massive marketing tool we have at our disposal BUT it has become something I cannot keep up with. Editing my posts, my photos and my profile will not edit my life. For me fitness is about health first. The functional, day to day benefits of looking after yourself and your health. The aesthetic benefits whilst always welcome and of course important are most definitely secondary to me. I realise this is probably a lot to do with my age, life and lifestyle. I want to be strong, fit and healthy and live a happy, content and full life above having a six pack, thigh gap or massive ass. I want to be able to run around and mess with my 4 year old daughter Maya but also to eat pizza so she can have my crust. To have the strength and mobility to do cartwheels, tumbles and handstands with her. To bounce on her trampoline and try and do flips on a bouncy castle and to realise that thanks to living my life and being a bit easier on myself bits of me may bounce too.

I have spoken about my own issues with self confidence and mental health struggles in previous posts. These issues definitely impact on my relationship with social media. It is a catch 22 situation for me, I really don’t like looking at myself even in the mirror never mind on a public forum but I realise that it is important for my business. I fight hard not to constantly berate and criticise myself. I don’t like the bits of me that bounce but I know that things in my life some of which are outside of my control (hormones and injuries) and some of which aren’t have contributed to this. I know I could eat a lot ‘cleaner’ but I also know this makes me an obsessive pain in the ass. I know that when I gave myself a reality check a few years ago about how it would make me feel to hear Maya speak to herself the way I spoke to myself and started being kinder to myself I actually looked better than I ever had. I don’t look that way now, partly due to external things, partly due to certain choices and definitely partly due to my love of food. Would I like to have my V Shape back in my tummy, yes I would. Would I prefer not to feel my love handles, yes I would. Do I use ‘life’ as a reason for not being in the shape I would ideally like to be in maybe a little bit too much, yes I do. Do I get upset seeing posts from #irishfitfam #fitspo etc and not looking anything like them, yes I do. Does looking at Instagram sometimes make me revert back to the self-loathing person I try so hard not to be, yes it does. Do I focus on my Social Needia too much, yes I do. But I realise this and I try very, very, very hard to combat it.

When it comes to social media, I personally feel we maybe have gone a little bit too far in the Influencer direction on social media, don’t get me wrong there are some people I love to follow and see their posts who are most definitely considered influencers. I just feel that almost every post from some of these influencers, even the supposed ‘real’ posts are so curated and sponsored that it can be hard to see through the fog and if they really should be influencing us at all. I also realise that there are a lot of demographic differences between me and many of them, including age, lifestyle, life position, employment and more and maybe these factors mean I see social media differently. Who knows exactly, but I do know that having fought through mental health issues including depression, anxiety and bulimia in the past that trying to keep up or even have my feed look anything like most of these peoples makes me very anxious and not particularly happy. So even though from my brand and business point of view I wish I had a different relationship with social media from an Emma point of view I need to just put up what suits me, stop comparing myself, my life, my business, my body, my face with others and keep driving home the fact that these; in some cases curated, edited, photoshopped, face tuned and meticulously planned snippets of peoples lives, businesses, bodies etc are just that. They are not an encapsulating holistic view.

I decided a little while ago to put up what I feel like and if people like it they like it and if they don’t, well then so be it. I have been having more fun, honest and being more tongue in cheek with posts.

I want young girls and women like me to feel less pressure to look perfect and to emphasise happiness, fulfilment, balance and being kind to ourselves. As my amazing Reiki healer would say “I am enough”. From a personal point of view I leave my phone out of my reach a whole lot more recently. I have friends who have quit Facebook and Twitter and I can see their point but I don’t quite think I need to do that, although a digital detox every now and then can only be a good thing. Don’t let Social Needia become too huge, there are other needs that are far more important and fun.

Emma Forsyth, Founder Pilates Plus Dublin