Instagram has revolutionised the way we consume content. Health and fitness ideas and information can be conveyed through pretty graphics, and the way god intended: memes. This is excellent. However, it’s not all Simpsons memes and rainbows. It is obviously not advisable that Instagram is your primary source of reference for health and fitness information, owing to the fact it is a photo-sharing app whose peer-review comes in the form of the flame emoji.

When it comes to health and fitness, there is so much good content out there. There is also fuckery. A lot of fuckery. Training and nutrition is no joke, and blindly following the advice of a random page on Instagram is one way to guarantee you’re gonna have a bad time. So, what makes for good information? And how can you tell your coaches from your crooks?

The iconic Tom Haverford of Parks & Recreation famously kept a list of major red flags in a relationship, of which he labelled “oh no, no’s”.  I thought I would air my grievances with Instagram through running through my Instagram content oh-no-no’s. Stuff that makes my eyes roll, and my hand unfollow. This is non-exhaustive, and I’m sure I will update these as I go along.

The Oh No, No’s of Creators: Red Flags

You know they don’t follow this advice themselves.

People be preaching #cleaneating and then every second day they’re out snorting 3in1s. Now I for one am not opposed to a good 3n1, but I am also not claiming to be on a #diet for the third time in a month. This is a little bit of a grey area for me, as I know people have different struggles and nutrition is no different. But I think it is extremely misleading to claim to be living one way, when in reality it is completely different.

They use random hyperbolic captions that don’t actually mean anything.

This is a big one for me.  People will write Instagram captions that contain the first chapter of War & Peace, displaying a vast and eloquent command of the English language. Except it’s a load of bullshit, littered with buzzwords and filler. You reach the end of these captions, several years later and you still haven’t got a clue what they are talking about. And chances are, these people don’t know what they’re talking about either. Don’t be fooled by thesaurus jockeys. Any old eejit can whole-heartedly tantalize the reader by embellishing the narrative with an extended soliloquy that is excremental in content. My last sentence is literally a fancy way to say shit.

You shouldn’t need a PhD to read an Instagram caption about someone’s leg workout. Unless of course they are discussing a paper.

As a wise patient once told me:

You can spray paint a shite gold, but at the end of the day it’s still a shite.

Translation: you can make your content look polished and fancy, but if it’s a load of crap, it’s still a load of crap.

They say things like “studies say”, and you know damn well they haven’t read a study in their life.

How to prove you are correct on Instagram 101: go to Google Scholar, pull up an article, don’t even read it and copy and paste the sentence from the abstract that supports your view. Referencing a study does not good content make. Any idiot can stick a few references into an Instagram post (see all of my most recent Instagrams) and that can be enough to convince people that this person knows what they’re talking about. Your average consumer isn’t going to check all of your references.

If you see a post that references a study, make sure that the person is objective in how they use it, and not just using it to bulldoze their point home. The North Haverbrook Journal of Pseudoscience & Instagram Engagement (1987) probably isn’t the most reliable source.

I think this one comes with a bit more experience in education and fitness as a whole. If you haven’t read scientific papers before, it can be harder to spot this. But by god once you have a grasp of it, you can easily spot this from a mile away.

They are randomly misogynistic.

This is one that gets me. And it’s a fine line. There are many coaches that are actually working towards the advancement of female fitness and encouraging women to lift weights. I think that is great, and I am all for that. What I am absolutely NOT for is some beta male telling women that they shouldn’t be “Cardio Caroline” and instead should be “Squatting Sandra”. If someone wants to start running, let them. Why do you care so much? If they are happy, let them off. I 100% agree with educating people that losing weight is also possible through resistance training, and that you don’t “have” to do cardio to lose weight. But I also believe in letting people make their own choices. And this stupid patronizing bullshit where you try and make women feel bad for going running is not the vibe.

I recently got a targeted ad for “what women think protien” will do. Ah yes, protien. The fifth macronutrient that enters our delicate female bloodstreams under the cover of darkness and turns us in to the she-hulk. Now that sounds pretty bad ass, but I am not going to take advice off someone who can’t even put in the due diligence to spell correctly before they patronize me.

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