We live in the age of the easily-offended. Where our outrage and anger is set on a hair-trigger. Social media has given us a platform to rant and rave. It is the 21st century soap-box. But is it worth it?
What is the cost of being so quick to offend and outrage?
In the moments during and following the social media red-mist the following takes place within your body:
–The hypothalamus ramps ups and signals the pituitary gland to get to work.
— The pituitary gland releases hormones to the adrenal medulla.
— Adrenal medulla releases cortisol.
— Cortisol promotes muscle contracture; pupil dilation; suppression of GI tract (digestion); increases heart rate; amygdala becomes hyper-aroused which can lead to emotional tagging in the hippocampus (sets you up to repeat this response in the future).
— Prefrontal cortex becomes inhibited (this is where present-time awareness, planning, motivation, decision making etc happens).
Not a good picture really. What basically happens is the outrage primes our system for a physical response (flight or fight) which tapping on a keyboard can’t satisfy.
And because of the tagging in the brain, we can become pre-programmed to be the angry bear-trap in other areas of life. The person cutting you off in traffic now deserves to die a painful death. The kids playing up in the backseat leads to an explosion of rage. The coffee shop gives you a flat-white instead of a latte- AARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!
So again, is it worth it?
Being quick to offense is grossly damaging to so many of your systems inside your body- as well as relationships around you. So next time you feel compelled to respond to a trivial Facebook post with an angry tirade, consider your own health. Maybe just take a few deep, calming breaths. Run around the block (flight)- or punch a pillow a couple of times (fight).
Let the anger go, because it isn’t worth it.
*Thank you to my colleague James Smith for keeping me on track with the neuroanatomy/physiology/biology!
I was Mountain Biking at Fox Creek in the Adelaide Hills a few weeks ago and had an experience that lead to a thought, which lead to a blog. This blog.
The experience: At the bottom of a downhill run, that converges with a few other downhill runs, I intersected with a fellow rider.
I acknowledged him and he started talking in what sounded like an excited tone- his full-face downhill helmet was muffling his voice.
“Sorry I can’t hear what you’re saying mate!” said I.
The other rider removed his helmet and said something quite enthusiastically- I can’t remember what he said because I was in shock.
When this guy removed his helmet, what he revealed was long, wispy white hair, about shoulder length but with a bald top. He had wrinkled, leathery skin and squinty eyes. He would have had to have been about seventy years old- at the very least.
“Are they your mates over there?” he said.
“My mates don’t come out riding with me, they’re all bloody old wimps!” He exclaimed. Bear in mind he had just come flying down one of the Black Diamond Downhill runs- think massive jumps, tight bermed corners and terrifying drop-offs.
We chatted a bit as we walked our bikes back to our respective cars. His wife was waiting patiently in the passenger seat of his ute. She was knitting. I am not joking. This actually happened. Ask Max Martin if you doubt me.
This got me thinking about my wife’s recently deceased Grandfather. He died in his early 90s, and had been ‘living’ in a nursing home for about 7 years. Prior to that he existed on a lazy boy armchair plonked in front of the horse racing channel on pay tv. He had done this for the previous ten or so years.
When the Grim Reaper finally pushed his door open and signalled ‘time’ on his life, Grandpa’s response was probably ‘It’s about bloody time mate, I’ve been waiting 15 years for you!’.
When Death goes looking for my old mate from Fox Creek, he probably won’t be at home on the couch. Check the garage Grim. I bet his bike isn’t in there.
Old mate will be out at Fox Creek. If he gets the tap on the shoulder at the top of a downhill run, he’ll probably say ‘Come on Grim, can you just let me have one more crack at this track and catch me down the bottom?’
When it’s my time to shuffle off, I hope I am hiking up a Himalayan mountain, or wake-boarding, or kicking the footy with my Grandkids, or Great Grandkids. When Death comes looking, I’m gonna be hard to find!
This time of year many Adelaideans are in the final stages of their preparations for their big running goal for the year. The City to Bay is only two and a half weeks away- and The Yurrebilla and Operation Flinders Ultra-Marathons will be following shortly after.
If you are having a crack at one of these, I wish you the best of luck! I also encourage you to relax, and enjoy yourself. I train a lot of runners and help guide them to the start line for events like these.
I have noticed a trend in recent years which worries me a bit. The fun seems to be evaporating. These days it is very easy to track your running progress. GPS watches are getting cheaper and yielding more and more info.
Smartphones with Strava or RunKeeper or Movescount or any number of tracking apps are easily attained alternatives. These are great tools. They can give you objective data on your progress and can also log your training sessions- which is great for accountability.
But I am noticing more people evaluating the quality of a run, or of themselves as a runner based on what their numbers say. ‘I can’t wait to get home and download the data to see if that was a good run’ is a paraphrasing of a mindset I see often.
When I go for a run the criteria I use to judge it on are:
- Did I feel good?
- Was there a fun descent that I ran well?
- Did I see anything beautiful?
If my average 1km splits are 7 seconds slower than the same run I did last week, so be it. That is not one of my quality criteria. It is nice to see progress. And if you run regularly and are training appropriately you should see a trend towards improved performance.
But improvement is not linear. Sometimes you run after a stressful day at work; or a bad night’s sleep; or you are fighting a bug that is lingering just under the surface. If you don’t reach your standard every time your run, cut yourself some slack about it! And in the end, why do you run?
If you run the City to Bay in 61 minutes and you aimed for 59 minutes, who really cares?! You just ran 12km, give yourself a pat on the back! Unless you are aiming to win the bloody thing, the aim should be fun, I reckon.
Many of us lead busy lives and we juggle multiple deadlines from multiple sources constantly. Don’t let your leisure time become just another pressure you place upon yourself. In the end, no-one except yourself really cares about how well you run. So relax and enjoy the ride. That way, you can’t lose.