Wellness Tool: Social Media "Feedback"
Dancers love feedback. Traditionally, it has come in the form of corrections from their teachers in class and rehearsals. Sometimes peers provide additional feedback, usually in the form of supportive compliments.
Nowadays, there are other types of feedback as well. "Likes" on Facebook and "hearts" on Instagram, among others, can provide dancers a sense of validation and progress. "I must be doing something right if I'm getting all these likes."
And while this might seem like a harmless bit of encouragement, it can also set dancers up for disappointment and delusion.
Social media images provide "social comparisons feedback," which means that when you look at an image of another dancer, your brain begins to make comparisons between that image and yourself, unbeknownst to you.
When the image is a "perfect" dance body, the comparisons tend towards the negative: my feet don't look like hers, I'm less flexible than that, I'll never..., I can't...
When the image is a less than perfect dance body, the comparisons may be positive as the looker imagines she can do better, or at least as well since her dance body is comparable or better.
Either way, expectations are being set: I should look like this and I shouldn't look like that. And when the images are of dancers doing extreme poses or stretches, the looker adopts those as "normal" and expected.
But norms and expectations for each dancer are somewhat individualized based on her facility, age, and level of training. Those expectations should be set by her teacher, not social media.
Additionally, the "likes" and "hearts" come and go on social media. I have heard from dancers how devastating it can be to suddenly lose a number of followers or to have fewer "likes" on one image than another. "What does it mean? Am I not as good as before? Do people not like me anymore?"
Both the distraction of monitoring responses to social media posts and the emotional impact of those responses can be intense. The question is: is this feedback helpful? Constructive? Does it help you/your dancer gain confidence and monitor progress?
It's important to have these discussions with your dancer to discover how much of an impact it's having on her ability to stay focused on what matters. While it's unrealistic to expect no social media time, it's crucial for dancers to approach the medium with a complete understanding of its potential effects and to regulate their interaction.
Ultimately feedback is all about learning and improving. Regular exposure to anything that undermines that equation and negatively impacts your dancer's ability to learn is both unhelpful and potentially destructive.
If you would like to discuss your/your dancer's relationship with feedback (social media or otherwise), please be in touch. Discovery Sessions are over the phone and free of charge.
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