Social networks certainly have their attractions. They bring people together, ideas can be exchanged, people can post good (and bad) jokes, people can discuss things. Alternatively, people can show off about how great they think they look, they can brag about how much weight they’ve lost and how quickly they’ve run and, unconsciously or not, they can make ‘friends’ feel bad about themselves. So, how do we determine what’s showing off and what’s just good clean fun?
Well, the truth is that there is no clear definition and much of it is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s pride in her or his looks and ability is another person’s narcissism. You pays your money, you takes your choice. Some of it, I just don’t think is very nice.
We live in a world where it’s apparently good to be thin and bad to be overweight in any way at all. This applies mainly to women and it’s obvious why. Men control much of the media and decide who looks good and who doesn’t. Go to any number of newspaper websites and you will be subject to pictures of women “flaunting their bodies”, or being photographed without permission, as I prefer to call it. If a woman is seen as carrying a little excess fat, you can bet your life the website will comment on it. We are shown images of perfection, which are often ‘touched up’ by experts to climate blemishes. What you see is not always real. But what if it is?
As I advance into old age, I am increasingly aware that I don’t look like I used to look. I can try some things to keep the lines and the aches and pains of age at bay, temporarily, but I can’t stop them. And, I suspect because of the media pressure we are subject to, I have some body image issues too. I’ll bet that many of you do as well. But should you?
I don’t think anyone should be subject to criticism for the way they look. If you weigh more than the Daily Mail says you should, should you feel bad about it? How can they know whether you have other issues that perhaps prevent you getting to the size which society seems to demand? You might be on certain drugs or you might have a condition that prevents you exercising as much as you’d like to. People might not know any of these things, but anyway, is it any of their business to criticise and demean?
The goal for many people in life is simply to make it through until life’s end, doing the best they can. Yes, we can admire those who run and cycle and exercise in a gym and yes, it’s good when they feel like sharing their success with friends. And it’s also good when – and this is just my opinion – their often great achievements are overshadowed by narcissism and absolute showing-off.
I’d like to think that if I was a 10k king or a serious gym monkey I’d be able to share the fact without rubbing other people’s noses in it. As we’re all different, so when I see narcissism, someone else will purr in admiration for what they perceive as a great achievement. Fair enough, but I’m just calling it as I see it. And we are talking about fine lines.