Finding Balance on the Web
First off, I need to preface by saying that the irony of writing about how "not everything you read on the internet is true" on the internet does not escape me...and secondly, without diving into a philosophical discussion of what is "true", when I discuss "truth", fill that in with what truth means to you. That said, here goes!
While recently scrolling instagram, I saw a post that startled me: "Doctors have lied about 'xyz'! Don't do this thing! I will cause all the diseases!" I freaked and called my doctor, needing to hear from the source that they were indeed full of BS. However, she calmed my nerves, telling me I'm not the first, second or even hundredth person to call in a panic after seeing some doom on social media and that what I saw wasn't true and I needn't worry. Did this make me feel better? Not really. I felt like I didn't know who to trust. So then back to the internet to try and figure it out for myself. But then again, the doc said not everything you read on the internet is true...
Having been in the health and fitness industry for the last 10 years, I’ve seen my fair share of self care tips and life advice. When started an instagram page for my business about a year ago, I started following healthcare providers of all types, like other massage therapists, acupuncturists, nurses, nutritionists etc. In doing so, I’ve been exposed to exponentially more “tips and tricks”. On one hand, this is great! I’m expanding my knowledge and learning about different ways of approaching health. On the other hand, all of this can be extremely overwhelming and, frankly, sometimes makes me feel like I’m not doing anything “right”.
When I find myself scrolling, it’s one post after another, often loaded with information. I read one then am immediately on to the next, often not taking the time to really think about what I’ve just read and how it fits into my life. I’m sure some of you are familiar with this. By the time I close whatever app I'm in, I’m left with unfinished thoughts, unprocessed information and a feeling of loose ends.
Recently I’ve been working with finding a balance with this. I don’t want to stop learning and do find a lot of this information valuable, but at some point I need to pause and integrate. Here are some of the ways I’ve been working towards this balance: 1) Use discretion based on who is posting. Do they have a certain group of people they work with? For example, a fitness coach for elite athletes will give different tips than a physical therapist working with recovering cancer patients. Taking this into consideration may change how you perceive their content. 2) Embrace polarity. Not every healthcare professional will agree on everything. If you notice contradicting information, understand that multiple viewpoints can exist at once. This is okay. "Hmmm. This is interesting. These folks don't agree". If it's something you truly want to get to the bottom of yourself, do your own research through trusted resources and know that you will land on what works for you and your situation. 3) Information vs. Advice. Information is objective and knowledge based while advice is subjective and experienced based. Health is not one size fits all and what works for others may not work for you. Filtering content through the lens of information vs. Advice helps to categorize what you see into fact and opinion.
4) Save posts that you find interesting and applicable to refer to later. This way you can go back and review exactly what is says instead of extrapolating a small piece of it. I personally can’t remember all of what I read, so when I see something I think I find useful, saving it to refer to later helps me get the whole picture instead of the few pieces I remember from a single scroll session.
5)Rest in the knowledge that your body knows what works for you. If you tune into your body’s signals, you’ll often be able to tell what it likes and what it doesn’t. There’s so much “do this!” and “don’t do this!” but at the end of the day, it's your life, your body. Of course, getting help from a professional or advice from a friend can be helpful but ultimately, if you listen, your body will communicate what is working and what isn't.
Remember: not everything you read on the internet is true. Be objective and discerning with the content you’re consuming and take breaks when you want/need to. It’s a jungle out there, but using your own critical lens can help you find information that fits into your life.
Thanks for reading