I love social media. I like Facebook, mostly because my profile has basically become an online forum for pole dancers who share advice and photos. I like Instagram, where I share exactly the same photos as I do on Facebook but with arty filters. I like twitter, where I largely retweet stuff by people who are infinitely funnier than me, and where I am guaranteed to be the first to know about dead celebrities. But I also hate social media. Facebook and I have fallen out several times, and once we didn’t even speak for eight months. Now we agree to give each other the space we need and bear in mind that getting too close is not good for either of us.
Here’s the wonderful thing about social media – it’s an amazing and endless resource for pole dancers. All these people at the touch of a button or the click of a mouse who understand your relationship with the pole. While your friends and family may get it, or try to get it, or tolerate it, or roll their eyes and sigh about it, there are thousands of polers out there who know exactly what you are on about. Can’t nail your Marion Amber? Join the online club. Proud that you finally managed to invert? There’s a whole group of polers waiting to congratulate you. Want tips on moves, products, clothes, or anything pole related? You have an endless bounty of advice right there behind that little f or that teeny blue bird.
But while social media drops you right into the heart of a community and shores you up with its likemindedness and support, it can also, sometimes, make you feel like the loneliest person in the world. While 90% of the time I am inspired by what I see, and driven to push my own boundaries and edges, sometimes the pressure to keep up can drive you to distraction, in an already competitive industry. For every week when I feel inspired and motivated and amazed by the pole world’s achievements and latest developments, I’ll have the odd day where I can’t help but think: Oh get lost. Go away, and take your quirky inverted anastasia variation thing with you. And don’t come back until I’ve perfected my cup grip straight edge too. And two fingers to your chest stand and bendy back.
I discussed this recently with a friend and fellow instructor.
“Look who’s talking” she said. “You post your fair share of new moves we can’t do either”
And she’s right. Without realising it I have become a Self Indulgent Over Sharer of Pole Achievements – or SIOSPA as I shall call us, for the sake of my word count.
Thing is, I can honestly say I never, ever post photos with a bad intent – that is, I am not a SIOSPA to show off, or brag, or make anyone feel bad about themselves. I feel happy and excited by new moves, and I want to share them for several reasons. I want my friends and family and non-polers to see that pole dancing is tough and athletic and challenging. I want students to know that there are many places that pole can take them, and to know that I work hard myself and expect great things from myself and not just from them. More importantly I am looking for feedback from the pole world, and a whole collection of people who can do the move way better than I can. The advice and tips from the pole community are invaluable. I remember once posting a photo of what I thought was a jackknife. Wooo hooo jackknife! No it wasn’t a jackknife at all. In fact it took me another two years to manage a jackknife.
So I have to assume that other SIOSPAs are the same – nobody can really be posting pictures to make us feel bad about ourselves? But am I inadvertently making others feel that way? Should I stop sharing, and keep my SIOSPA habit in check?
|My dragon tail contribution
This past fortnight on social media has been remarkable for the latest Move Of The Moment – the dragon tail. This was first posted by Charlee Shae Wagner, and within hours it was being replicated globally. We have seen Moves Of The Moment many times before – the sailboat, Janeiro, Anastasia – but never this fast or this prolifically. This is where social media really comes into its own – I have seen the community take this move and share it out, looking for tips, sharing hints, posting videos, and all the while acknowledging where it came from and how we came to be able to do it. Being able to teach a move that two weeks ago none of us had ever even tried is remarkable. Far from making me occasionally feel bad about myself, SIOSPAs are in fact helping me on every step of my pole journey. Without them, I’d have never been doing the things I am doing now.
If you don’t want to see someone’s statuses or pictures, hide them from your newsfeed. If you really don’t want them at your social media party, unfriend them. But I’ll be leaving my fellow SIOSPAs right where they are – because it’s not their fault I sometimes get down on my lack of strength or inflexible spine. They are there to show me what I can do, and I am grateful for their amazing talents. I have learned more from my social media friends than I ever thought possible. You have no idea how many photos I have on my phone of you lovely people. So keep sharing Self Indulgent Over Sharers of Pole Achievements. I can only hope to inspire a single poler as much as you have inspired me. And if I’m guilty of over sharing too much – well I’m sorry about that too. But don’t feel you have to look.