Has Social Media Killed Humility?

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

C.S. Lewis

Social media basically consists of posts about

  • Look how good I look
  • Look at my cool stuff
  • I have the best (spouse, job, boss, family)
  • I am the best

Except for any posts about dogs… doggos are perfect in every way and we don’t deserve them. And babies… I’ll never be irritated by posts about babies. There are also posts that are meant to educate – I follow quite a few trainers and athletes that show how they perform an exercise or a mobility drill. But, for the most part social media has become an outlet to brag. I’m guilty of it; I recently uploaded a post showing how hard I’ve worked. While I may have intended it to be inspiring, it got me thinking about the general attitude of social media.

Humility, by definition, means “freedom from pride or arrogance”… also “a modest view of one’s own importance”.* Let me preface this blog post by saying that a lot of the pages I follow are fitness related – the fitness industry is known for being self-centered and obsessed with perfection and being numero uno. However, I feel you can usually decipher which posts are meant to inspire, educate, or show appreciation compared to the ones that are simply for vanity. Girls posting in their underwear saying “I’m the definition of discipline” or “I deserve to win” or “I work harder than anyone else” are not inspiring… they’re just plain vain. Progress photos are a great tool to track results and hold yourself accountable, but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance… it really drills down to the attitude and the intention. I know and follow some truly amazing athletes that would never and have never posted anything even remotely cocky or arrogant – and they’ve won some impressive titles.

If you’re posting about PR’s, I’m all for it.. as long as you don’t troll someone else’s post if their PR happens to be lower than yours. Hugh Jackman posted a deadlift photo awhile back and you would not believe the trolls that showed up to mock his 400lb lift. Why? Because they believe that they are far superior than this 50 year old who is in fantastic shape and posted a photo with a quirky caption. I can do more than you, therefor I’m going to try to make you feel bad about yourself. Great attitude, thanks for stopping by.

That brings me to my next point – it’s not just photos or videos that are lacking in humility. The premise of social media is to cause people to have a reaction – be it positive or negative. It’s not called a “Like” for no reason – we want our audience to engage with our posts. Still, what ever happened to the saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? For females in the bodybuilding world especially, the comments about how they preferred you before you had muscles or that you look like a man are more common than not. Even if your post is about how confident you feel or how much you love yourself – someone has to come in and wreck your positive vibes. What about the unsolicited advice people? While I was pregnant and regularly speaking to my doctor about any exercise restrictions (which was basically no restrictions other than lying flat on my back) I constantly received comments about how I should or shouldn’t exercise. Then came the postpartum and parenting advice. I have never gone to someone else’s post and left a negative comment. What purpose would that serve? The only thing it does is makes me look like an arrogant jerk. Have I thought, man this post is ridiculous or this person’s form needs some major correcting? Of course. Am I going to give you a piece of my mind? Nope, not unless you ask for it or write something rude on one of my posts first.

Maybe I’m just being naive in believing that social media can be better – that it can be more transparent, more kind, and more humble. As someone who has struggled with self-confidence their entire life, I understand the posts that portray a message of loving yourself and your journey. Believing in yourself can have a huge impact on your ability to succeed in life. Henry Ford said it best when he said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t, you’re right”. Wholeheartedly believe in yourself, but please do so without making the rest of us cringe from your ego.

*https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humility

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