I feel like I’ve been hurt by a friend yet this friend is a community lifestyle Facebook page.
I have been a member of the a program for three and a half years. It’s a health and fitness lifestyle program. I joined the program September 2016 and had great success on it. I soon became a loyal member along with a lifestyle change it encouraged.
It promotes JERF ( Just Eat Real Food) eating and regular exercise for 30 minutes everyday. Over the three and a half years the program has evolved and grown. I started when the program was in its infancy. The recipes have multiplied as has many other facets of the program. I’m a big believer in the ethos of this program dubbed ‘a family’. It has a closed community Facebook page that allows members to post their successes and struggles or so I thought.
I had my best success the first 3 months after joining but remained a financial member because despite getting to a weight I was happy with, I still got something out of the community focus. Members have social days together and I’ve made some nice friendships from the program.
The creator of the program is a really nice person who I feel genuinely wants to see people do well and reach their fitness goals but like all businesses that start of small and are successful expand and become a business and that means growth of staff like media and business managers. This has its positives. As the business becomes more financially successful the facets of the program grow and overall produces a better product for the consumer. The negative is it has an image to uphold.
Business’s are about making money and money comes in the form of memberships. Eye catching before and after photo’s of transformations that catch the eye of the next potential member who may be roaming social media, or past financial members who still can view the community page who may be lured back. When you start JERF eating your body initially has a internal but also very external transformation. As time goes on and this new way of eating and introduction of regular exercise becomes the norm the changes aren’t as obvious over time. Some old habits may creep back in and I may increase 4-6 kilos and when I do, I jump back on board the Facebook community page for inspiration and support to re focus and drop those few gained kilos.
I recently did this. I entered a challenge and fully immersed myself again. Being part of this group, going on four years, I have felt very safe interacting with others in the group. It’s overall a very supportive group. It’s encouraged for you to share your successes to inspire others and difficulties as support is plentiful therefore encouraging you on your own personal journey.
I know the program well yet have my human weaknesses and that I put out there on the page. Too many desserts, lack of motivation to exercise, dislike of salads but overall I enjoy the food and format. I’m now peri menopausal so have different issues to the majority of the women on the program who are raising young families.
I posted videos of my struggles of sticking to a meal plan conducive to weight loss and general fitness when your body’s hormones are fighting against you, wrote posts and photographed my efforts with food along the way. I’m not a natural sporty person so discussed how I was reinvigorating my desire to exercise and improving my relationship with exercise. The support I was getting was helpful and I felt I was doing well, especially this last week.
I now feel I mistakenly felt safe doing this and posting. I’m quite a sensitive soul, so to do such a thing I must feel at ease. Believe me when I say I am not someone who willingly draws attention to myself. I’m the one who usually stays invisible in a crowd as a hangover from my younger bullying days at school and struggling to feel accepted. I write a little about my school days in Why I Write A Blog, https://the-world-thru-my-eyes.blog/2019/02/18/why-i-write-a-blog/.
I had posted videos which is harder to do than write posts because you are visually putting yourself out there for criticism. They can see you, you can’t hide behind the keyboard. Well I was seen and according to an email I received from the team who manage the program, there feedback from members was my posts were not relevant to their journeys and due to the frequency ( daily in this case) and volume of my text ( no longer than many others who post ) I was encourage to find another medium such as personal Facebook or instagram page to post my progress and difficulties with the menu and exercise program. Or even to just record it privately and share with family and friends. I don’t think what I had to say which was merely me telling my story, my barriers and difficulties was such an issue people would feedback to the facilitators. Perhaps I waffled perhaps I was boring, whatever I apparently wasn’t relevant.
On receiving this email initially I was shocked. I had received positive comments on the posts and there are many posts I see that are not relevant to my journey so I scroll past as others could easily do with mine. I then felt embarrassed that others had clearly not liked my posts and hurt that the staff had apparently received sufficient enough feedback that it warranted them sending me such an email after years on the program and no such issue before. I have no idea of the number who gave feedback that my posts were not relevant to their journey but given 80 percent are women with young children and I’m peri- menopausal it perhaps was quite a few.
But on the reverse, that means potentially 80 percent of posts I see about mums and kids aren’t relevant to my journey and I’m a paying member. I did think this community meant diverse and many individuals and was therefore for every member. I guess majority rules in this forum and given most members are at a different stage in their lives to me, and keeping the paying mass happy is what’s important for business.
Perhaps my struggle is not the image the Facebook page facilitators want. I replied, through tears welling in my eyes, saying I was disappointed and due to my sensitivity of embarrassment I clicked on unsubscribe to the community page. A page I’ve been a member of for three and a half years, engaged with and made friendships on. A page I had invested much of my time in and a community group that had become part of my life as I embraced my new lifestyle with like minded people I felt I had something in common with.
The posts of others in the community have filled my Facebook page feed for those three and a half years. It became part of my life, part of who I was, a solid in my life. I chose a lifestyle change and stepped into this world. A world I have now stepped out of as a result of feeling embarrassed by the thought people aren’t liking what I post. A world that had embraced me, so I thought, a place I felt welcomed and fitted into to yet once again I’ve have now found myself questioning my self worth and questioning if I ever really belonged.
What has been lovely is some of my friends I have made over time, and even some I wasn’t aware followed my posts, have forwarded responses to me from my last post saying I was stepping away from the group. These responses have been along the line of,
Your posts are so relatable
I love your honestly
I have enjoyed reading your posts
I loved you videos
I loved your visual food diaries
My friends I have made in this group have been so kind and supportive and that has meant the world to me. However the majority of the community it seems had spoken and I have been asked to find a different medium to express my thoughts or to keep my own private diary. I am welcome to stay part of the community and post from time to time, so clearly daily was to much. Despite me knowing others post daily.
It kinda reminds me of China’s communist party. If you aren’t preaching the right words, you are heard to say anything slightly questioning the government, it sends out its men or in this case an email, to shut you down and to silently make you disappear. They have achieved this. I have now silently slipped away, no longer to post anything that may not be conducive to the ongoing business model.
My wounded and insecure self will now not feel game to post in this forum. This lifestyle group I felt was my friend, I feel I’ve just broken up with it, and it feels awful.
Perhaps I’d put to much time into this virtual friendship, this social media Facebook group. Bottom line in such a group is your just a snowflake in a mountain of many. You won’t be missed after a few days. They aren’t tangible friendships. They majority are keyboard friendships all said and done, however like anything you walk away from that you have been invested in, it leaves a gap.
But like all these types of things you feel loss, hurt, even embarrassment but you move on and find other things to focus on and bring joy into your life. I’m resilient that’s a strength I know I have. I bounce back from my disappointments and losses.
It’s allowing time to feel disappointment, I know the drill. I felt safe, I put myself out there to have myself told I wasn’t ok. It’s now remembering my self worth and accepting I’m not a good fit there and moving on to where I am. To not let the wounds of yesteryears of not being accepted because I looked different with my almond eyes or not one of the cool kids at school rear its head .
I’m writing like I did wrong but I need to remind myself I’ve been an active member posting heading upto four years now and never received this type of email before. I need to remember I have made friends in the group, I need to remember I had positive comments on my posts, I need to remember I’ve had kind message as a response to my departure. I need to remember I’m still the same me I haven’t changed but perhaps the program and it’s direction has. I need to remember that as a result of that this programs direction may no longer align with me. I need to remember I’m ok, I am enough being just me.
Love Lucy x