Learning to run with everyone else

Go Run

I’m training for a half marathon. The Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill half marathon, to be precise.

Waking up at 6:30 a.m. every day to run a few miles or racking up a few more in the evenings has not been easy. Having what seems to be the vast resource that is the Internet has made it easier.

Being a part of the global running community on the Web reassures me that I’m not doing this alone and training isn’t supposed to be easy. I’d be in good company if I were training for my first 5K or my first marathon. (I’m training with well+GOOD’s half marathon training plan, by the way.)

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You may have heard of the Couch to 5K program. Did you know there’s an app that can help you stick to your running schedule? You can also join an online community of aspiring 5K-ers to share your progress, bad days, and tips for running faster and becoming stronger.

We’ve heard plenty about the good and the bad effects of being on the Web for our bodies. Like many other online hobby communities, the online running community is a good “win” that shows how powerfully community-oriented we can be when we’re trying to become better versions of ourselves.

How Pinterest makes me feel behind in life

No. No, I do not.

I may not be part of Pinterest’s main demographic quite yet, but as a twenty-something female, pins are definitely adding pressure to start crackin’ at major life events on me. Every time I log onto Pinterest, this is more or less what I see:

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You learn something new every day. Apparently you can’t just call up your girlfriends and ask them to be your bridesmaids anymore.

It’s great to see so many of my friends getting ready to tie the knot with their partners. Social media has provided unique and interesting ways for friends across the globe to stay connected to each other and to share life milestones, from graduations and weddings to babies and deaths.

Over the last few years, though, the social space my friends and I inhabit has become saturated with what I’d call “milestone oversharing.” On Pinterest, this manifests itself in the form of seemingly countless pins of wedding dresses, centerpieces, and special-occasion up-dos. This extends to other mainstream networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where wedding announcements, engagement ring photos, and baby bumps find room to dominate.

Ready to pop... I see what you did there.

Ready to pop… I see what you did there.

Yes, friends, I’m happy you’re engaged. I’m happy you’re expecting. Do I want to join you in celebrating while I’m thousands of miles away from you? Totally. Do I want to be reminded of your engagement or your pregnancy every time I access a social network we’re connected on? Nope. Not one bit.

On a qualitative level, I’ve observed this sentiment across my group of friends. My friends’ network of friends have felt this way as well. In an age where we’re trying to carve out lives for ourselves, we need a way to celebrate life in a way that’s memorable, but non-intrusive.

Being connected in the real-time and algorithmically-driven social space amplifies life milestones, forcing us to contend feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and can lead to darker illnesses such as depression. Isn’t the pressure to stay on par with everyone else built into our social structure enough?

To make social media bit more amenable to early birds and late bloomers alike, we need to think differently about how we categorize and prioritize content. Perhaps the resolution lies in creating a separate social network for brides-to-be or keeping long-term milestone updates within family and close friend groups. Maybe we can even build an opt-in button for those who just can’t get enough of wedding bells and baby photos. Like all other news and content, let’s keep it simple and keep it relevant.

After all, I’m more interested in how I’ll dye my hair next weekend for the very first time (a milestone!) and you might be getting ready to ask the love of your life to marry you (also a milestone!).