06 Nov The Social Media Dilemma for Youth Athletes: Don’t Let It Use You
I don’t like social media.
As ubiquitous as I am, blasting out content on every platform, from YouTube, to Twitter, to Facebook, to Instagram, being in front of everyone’s eyes is something I don’t enjoy. Mind you, transfixing my eyes on a blue light for all hours of the day isn’t all rainbows and unicorns either.
Of course, growing these platforms hasn’t been a cake walk, and I’m proud of the brand I’ve built over the past several years. If any of you know me, I don’t go half-in on anything, to the point I quit drinking and partying, become anti-social and a total recluse to achieve my goals.
I have an immense sense of pride and accomplishment of how far I’ve come since starting from scratch back in 2012. This was back when I wholeheartedly wrote blogs for just one reader, and loved every minute of it.
Now, I don’t want to totally poo-poo on social media, as it’s been a great way to get my message out there to youth athletes on how to train and level up as humans, as well as connect with coaches who are eager to serve their players and ensure they physically develop in a safe, effective and fun manner.
Fast forward several years, and I’ve gone from one reader to thousands.
The best part of growing an audience this large on social media has been helping many across the world on physical training, not just for speed, strength and on-pitch performance, but also, for life. Truthfully, the words I write are birthed from the depths of my heart, and from the quirkiest, most insightful corners of my brain.
Players have sent me messages that my blogs have helped their anxiety.
Parents have thanked me for speaking truth about how jogging laps as warm up is useless.
Parents have thanked me for saying how 1,000 ground contact plyometric sessions are as stupid as decaf coffee.
Female athletes have told me that my blogs have helped them exit abusive relationships. (Read Soccer Saved My Life HERE).
Female athletes have messaged me with how much I’ve inspired them to become strong and lift weights.
Female athletes have told me they kept their ACLs intact and resilient as hell.
Female athletes have also said they are no longer afraid to step into a gym like they own the place.
I’m forever grateful for the lives I’ve impacted through my articles, and if someone would’ve told me when I started several years ago I’d be impacting more readers than just my mom, I would’ve told them they were crazy.
It’s been an incredible journey, one that has been as exuberant as Frodo hiking to Mordor. Excuse the hyperbole, but blogging has been that magical.
However, with any mystical adventure with picturesque elves and lush forests and sparkly skies, there comes evil orcs, dragons, spiders and so much more. With light and love, comes darkness and hate.
Being on social media presents a funky juxtaposition – elating highs with dopamine hits, and soul sucking lows with serotonin dumps.
You don’t need to be a neuroscientist to see this know this is a toxic cocktail swirling around and damaging the human brain, nor do you have to be a therapist to know this is dangerously addicting.
In fact, the people who created social media are smart enough to have a team of behavioral scientists on board to get you to be a lifetime consumer sucked into an auto pilot matrix, with a nearly impossible escape.
Truthfully, it’s been overwhelming to post every day for the past eight years, but I’m human, and succumbed to the addiction. And full transparency, I couldn’t take the heat, was overworking, posting constantly, and suffered the consequences.
I’ve been burned out from the pressure, the hate, the criticism, and all of the icky things that come with being vulnerable with your work, while also pushing to stay relevant. I wrote about being admitted to the emergency room for severe anxiety HERE.
Taking the conversation beyond my personal experience, I see the social media damage happening in youth. For starters, young humans are being sucked into a sedentary lifestyle. The human body was never designed to plop on a sofa, watch mindless Tik Tok videos, while munching on Cheetos. Nor was it designed to sit in a collapsed posture hours on end, while being engrossed by Cardi B and Kylie Jenner. Nor was it designed to stay inside, be highly Vitamin D deficient, under-slept, and malnourished.
To make things even scarier and more messed up, how many times did you pull your phone out of your pocket today? How many times did you check Instagram? How many times did you tune into the Tik Tok feed? How many times did you bop from checking Instagram, to Tik Tok, to Snapchat?
If you’re in the double digits, yikes.
The reliance on social media and the craving for dopamine hits and external validation have taken you away from the dynamic, active and adaptable human that you are. Instead of going outside to play with your neighbors, you scroll. Instead of practicing your soccer skills, you snapchat. Instead of going for a walk, you Tik Tok.
As threatening as the lazy lifestyle is, it’s not the only danger young athletes face.
Now let me ask you this: how many times did someone’s post piss you off? How many times did you send a friend a depressing or triggering video? How many times did you leave a hurtful comment? How many times did you consume negative news? How many times did you watch something that made your brain deteriorate?
Too, if you’re in the double digits, yikes.
Social media has its slimy way of making you forget who you are. To have you lose control. To get you riled up. To disconnect you from you. To outrage you. To fight or flight you. To tell you how to think.
Meme artwork by @MADEbyJIMBOB
This is the Social Media Dilemma for young athletes today, and it is the biggest threat kids face to their performance on the pitch. It’s not lack of training, equipment, facilities or good coaches.
It’s being sucked into the abyss of laziness, disconnection from self, distraction from hopes and dreams, and less tolerance of others with opposing views.
This is why I don’t like social media. Yes, I’m tremendously active on all channels, but I’ve had to outsource my posts to another person. I’m over it all, to say the least. I choose freedom. Sure, it wasn’t easy to swallow the pill that social media was imprisoning me, and it won’t be for you either. But I urge you, it’s time to wake up.
Getting sucked into the noise on social media is at its apex, and I refuse to lose sight of who I am at my core. A coach. A creative. A mentor. A human being.
When Elon Musk appeared on Joe Rogan he said, “you are already a Cyborg.” How’s that for a gut punching, intestine churning phrase? It sure woke me up to return back to what it is to be human, and it should be an impetus for young kids to take charge of their lives as well. Your brain is still developing, you’re still building neural connections, you’re still making sense of the world, you’re still developing your personality and openness and empathy toward others, so how are you going to optimize this all to become the strongest version of you? How are you going to focus your attention on what truly matters to pursue your dreams? How are you becoming more of an individual, rather than a deadpan zombie in the mob?
Instead of being told what to think by the news feed, how are you listening to your own intuition?
Instead of getting outraged at your friends in the group chat, how are you sitting down with them criss-cross style and having a conversation face-to-face?
Instead of tapping away at your keyboard in anger, how are you taking a moment to come home to yourself and your breath before you respond with something hurtful?
Instead of name calling someone based on their political affiliation, how are you getting to know them as a multi-dimensional human with a beating heart?
We need less judgement, and more understanding.
We need less keyboard warriors, and more in person conversation starters.
We need less projected traumas and blaming, and more inner work and ownership.
We need less isolation, and more human connection.
We need less scrolling, and more movement.
We need less blue light, and more sunlight.
We need less external validation, and more confidence in ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, social media can be used for good, for meeting others from across the world, exchanging ideas in your respected field, meeting other excited young athletes with the same dreams, finding others who are passionate about the same hobbies as you, and finding information other than agenda driven mainstream networks.
Be aware, be very aware of what you’re consuming, and if it’s controlling you to the point you forget who you are. Because you as a young athlete are powerful, and so incredibly capable of doing good in this world. You are in control of your performance on the pitch, how you train, how you nourish your body, how you sleep, how you connect, move, and evolve, and how you stay the course despite the distractions.
Use social media, yes.
But don’t let it use you.
For a year-round speed, strength and conditioning program for youth athletes and soccer players, GET TOTAL YOUTH SOCCER FITNESS 365 HERE
To be successful with this program, you need to be relentlessly consistent, do all the workouts, track your load along the way, and simply, put in good old-fashioned hard work. ;-O
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