I returned to Twitter in the new year. Specifically, I resolved to tweet about my morning workouts. I like to get on the treadmill first thing in the morning. I don’t go for very long — 10 minutes usually — and at this point I’m simply working on consistency. I would love to hit the treadmill first thing in the morning each and every day this year. I am hopeful that social media will help keep me accountable along the way, one tweet at a time.
In the case of my morning workouts, the public nature of social media makes it my digital “workout buddy” — as long as I am honest in my post-workout tweets (and I work diligently to be just that) — there is a record of my efforts on that particular day. After the first five days of the year, my network of followers, small but growing, provides an added layer of support, retweeting or favoriting particular tweets of mine. In other words, my workout buddy is both the platform itself and, by extension, the users with whom I share a connection. In this way, my morning workouts have become a social endeavor.
Encouragement to continue
In just a few words and a hashtag, my message is shared. The promise of hitting “Tweet” on Twitter encourages me to put one foot in front of the other on the treadmill. Even and especially if I am tired, even and especially if it would have been easier to spend a bit more time in bed. It is not so much that my audience is waiting for me as it is the fact that I have the opportunity to engage with the audience. I have the opportunity to share my successes with them. I read this opportunity as a responsibility to a group of people who are (relatively speaking) close to me. I walk to make them proud because I know that sentiment will keep me walking.
Communication technologies and platforms have long provided forms of social support to their users. In the social-media age, these forms of social support have become more quantifiable and easier to use than they were in an earlier era. “Liking” a Facebook posting takes only one click, the same goes for “retweeting” content on Twitter. The results of a particular post or tweet are easily counted up and they are certainly visible to members of the user’s trusted circle of connections. In this way, of course, a user’s circle of Facebook friends or Twitter followers has the potential to expand at an astonishing rate.
Method of accountability
Social media has significant implications in a workout context. As individuals set out to live healthier, more active lifestyles, social networking can serve as a motivating force. When I wake up in the morning, I know that a posting will go up on my Twitter feed, because I’ve made the commitment to track my workouts via social media. I am committed to working out because I know my followers will see it — that is a primary motivator in my view. In other words, I am accountable.
My personal Twitter audience is relatively small. It is not the size of the audience, per se, but the strength of their connections to me. I know several of my Twitter followers in real life; they are my friends, neighbors and coworkers. They are my professional colleagues, mentors and confidants. In writing on Twitter each morning, I am speaking to them (and others) in a unified setting. I keep up my morning workouts, for the sake of my audience and myself.
Peter Joseph Gloviczki, Ph.D., is a media, information and communication researcher. A former resident of Minneapolis, he works as an assistant professor of communication at Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. His first scholarly book, “Journalism and Memorialization in the Age of Social Media,” is forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan in April 2015. Visit him online at http://petergloviczki.com
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