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Is Your Online Life Making You Socially Poor?

There was an interesting opinion article published last month in The New York Times about how people who have more online versus in person interactions are described as being “socially poor” and are more likely to be lonely and depressed.

Social media plays a huge role in the running and racing community, so we’re offering some tips on how to better manage your online life in order to stay socially wealthy and healthy.

Wait For It

I use my phone as an alarm clock, so it’s the very first thing I reach for in the morning. As soon as I get out of bed, I’m checking messages, posts and email. This is all before 5:30 a.m. on the weekdays.

A good fix is to stop using your phone as an alarm and wait at least until you have had a cup of coffee before checking messages. Maybe even take three minutes to practice mindful meditation before diving headfirst into social media.

Make Real Connections

According to a 2010 study published by AARP The Magazine40 percent of adults at that time reported feeling lonely, and most experts feel that percentage is underestimated.

How many times have you marveled at someone’s online accomplishments, only to later hear or read that they are much more human than you think? Most often whomever you are admiring has gone through a range of emotions, setbacks and self-doubt before finally becoming successful.

If you make an effort to have real, honest, face-to-face interactions, you will get the entire story every time—not just the highlight reel.

Easy ways to connect with runners both on and off the roads include:

  • Search for running groups in your area either online or by talking with other runners
  • Ask at your gym or local running shoe store about fun runs or other running-related events
  • Start your own group based on a theme (e.g. Disney runners) or type (e.g. moms and stroller runs)

Take A Social Media Break

There are so many different ways to either take a step back from social media or a weeklong vacation from it. Either way, it’s healthy to take some sort of break, especially if you feel inadequate or overwhelmed by the content.

There are several apps on the market that track how much time you’re spending online (like Offtime, Moment and BreakFree) and can help you recognize in a general sense how you’re spending your free time.

You can also incorporate simple fixes, like gauging how you feel before and after you scroll through your feed or taking time to look at your own social media highlight reel, either right before or right after looking at everyone else’s.

It’s important to have perspective when consuming social media, to stay aware of how and why you may be comparing yourself and then to decide if the comparisons you’re making are fair.

Most importantly, put your phone down and head out for a run as often as possible. It’s the one sure way to stay socially healthy and wealthy.


Social Media Fitness Challenges Are Everywhere—Do We Like Them?

Runners Love Social Media For These Two Great Reasons

Social Media Should Be Fun, Not Depressing

Allie Burdick

Allie Burdick

Allie is a freelance writer, athlete and mom, but not in that order. Her work has appeared in Runner's World, Triathlon Magazine and ESPNW. On her blog, VITA Train for Life, she chronicles her life as a runner/triathlete and hopes her successes and failures help to motivate and inspire others, even the over-40 crowd she somehow found herself in! The rest of her time is spent raising her twin boys with her husband in the Northeast where they live a big life! See it all on Twitter and Instagram.