Goodbye Running Friends Scotland, it was good while it lasted #facebook #ultraboyruns

Is social media a good thing for running? Is social media a good thing for my running?

I’ve been using social media for a long time in a variety of ways and I’ve evolved my use of it over the years as connections or locations or my love of something changes. Increasingly I’ve used social media as a way to engage in discussion and also to source information about races, kit and routes. It has been influential in connecting people who might not otherwise have known one another and it has provided inspiration to myself and many others, but it’s not all good and what happens when you feel the negatives outweigh the positives?

I originally used Twitter as way of connecting with other runners and for quite a long time found this very useful as a way of sharing information and learning about races, kit and other peoples experiences.

Sadly, over a period of time I found myself following less and less people as the rise of influencers became a thing and the pool I was involved with became too much like an echo chamber and I hated being caught up in the little cliques that I saw forming and as I fell out of love with these cliques I found myself increasingly removed from Twitter.

Now although I didn’t delete Twitter I just stopped using it and would only occasionally revisit for a specific thread that was of interest and that is where my relationship with tweeting is and will remain.

But as Twitter fell off my radar I found myself a new home.

On Facebook, when I was moving up to Scotland, I discovered a lovely and very friendly group called ‘Running Friends Scotland’.

It was here that I was introduced to lots of the local runners, races and trails and it provided a seemingly infinite resource of good stuff. I happily got involved with the group, posting stupid videos, blog and podcast posts and regularly engaged with other group members and paying forward the positivity that I myself had received.

Occasionally I’d do a dickish thing like posting a video of my running through mudflats and nearly dying and there would be some criticism or negativity but I get that – you act like an arsehole – you get called an arsehole.

Just a few days ago though I found myself asking a question regarding finding races for my daughter and what surprised me, was not the negative comments, but the insinuations integrated into some of those comments and the amount of them.

To give some context my daughter is an able and happy runner that does lots of activities beyond running. Added to this I am fully aware of her young bones and that she is a growing girl and I am very aware responsibility to ensure that she remains healthy and I do not damage her growth. However, her progress in activities such as running, hiking, gymnastics and swimming has been really quite remarkable and we are keen to give her every opportunity to explore her potential and so I asked the question, ‘does anyone know of races up to 10km that my daughter could run’ and obviously with the added context and more that I have added here.

For reference to anyone reading this I don’t need any further criticism or comment on my daughters running or my approach to it.

The result of the comments from the Running Friends Scotland group has seen me remove myself from an internet location that for the most part I have been very pleased to be a part of, and even in the opinion fest that my last post caused there was still much comment that was supportive of the active lifestyle that my family enjoys.

However, there was enough snide comments that gave me pause enough to think, ‘why am I bothering?’

I’d made the decision originally not to ignore those who had drawn my parenting into question and instead for the most part politely told them that a. I wasn’t asking about anything other than race options, b. I am aware of the various options that the group was presenting and c. that I was very grateful for the concern being raised and will certainly give it all due consideration.

I mean, in the end, I did get a little bit sarcastic but that was generally only in response to people who were inclined to push their point of view rather than simply ignore the post entirely.

Leaving the group felt like my only response and when I wrote to one of the administrators I wanted to make it clear that I found the group on the whole a very positive experience and that deleting all of my group content wasn’t a tantrum but simply I didn’t want to offend these commentators with what are often posts about my daughter and I on adventures together.

I’m not an idiot, I know that the moment you say anything on the internet there is a chance that someone will disagree and that’s fine but when it moves into what feels like, ‘you should only do it my way’ then it feels tiresome.

I’m disappointed to have been hounded out of an internet space I enjoyed and hope I don’t come across these keyboard warriors in real life as they will discover that I am much less pleasant person in 3D than I am when connected to my laptop.

In the end none of this really matters, life will go on and social media will go on but perhaps there is a thought that maybe we should, myself included, think about what we type and certainly pause before we press enter.

7 comments
  1. wojtek said:

    Some people, hiding behind their screens, can really hurt and damage someone. Sometimes it’s accidental, sometimes it is done with malice.

    I applaud the way you’ve dealt with this – when the environment becomes toxic, we can either swim in it or get out. Kudos.

    PS: I admire how you’ve influenced your daughter – you must be a great role model for her. And unlike the social media influencers, you are a ‘real’ person.

  2. wojch said:

    Some people, hiding behind their screens, can really hurt and damage someone. Sometimes it’s accidental, sometimes it is done with malice.

    I applaud the way you’ve dealt with this – when the environment becomes toxic, we can either swim in it or get out. Kudos.

    ————–

    PS: I admire how you’ve influenced your daughter – you must be a great role model for her. And unlike the social media influencers, you are a ‘real’ person.

    • ultraboycreates said:

      I like to think that those who comment do it from a positive place but yes environments can become toxic and it’s best not to swim in toxicity. Thanks for your reply – it is appreciated.

  3. Stuart Turpie said:

    Left Running Friends Scotland ages ago as it was taking over my timeline, with inane repetitive posts!

    It seemed a very friendly and welcoming area of Facebook when it first started.

    I don’t blame you in the slightest.

    • ultraboycreates said:

      I sort of liked it, was handy for hearing about races but yes it’s a big group and I guess I’d forgotten that internet attracts everyone. My own fault for asking a silly question – still onward and upward! 😬

  4. John M said:

    Almost every facebook running group has its own lifecycle. Starts off small and interesting, grows in size until eventually the people who have joined change the nature of the group, and then the people who have been there a while leave. I think if you are on any sort of personal journey in your running you naturally evolve in your outlook, ambitions and experience. Many of the most toxic running groups are full of people who have strong opinions but limited experience. All you can do is shrug and move on. It isn’t real life.

    • ultraboycreates said:

      Agreed. My only sadness is that it was a very useful source of race information – especially those little ones that I don’t hear about because I’m not part of a club or a group. That said I’m not really disappointed to have disconnected from it but it had been a very important resource when I was new up here. I also really didn’t realise the group was so large until I actually pressed ‘leave’. It was like 12,000 members… blooming heck!

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