Social media has taken over the world—this is not news. We have now become accustomed to documenting literally everything. We take photos of our meals, Snapchat our friends, share videos of our social activities (#BrunchIsEverything) and, of course, indulge in an unending amounts of selfies. While the merits or drawbacks of the influx of social media in every aspect of our lives is being scrutinized and debated, there are two adjacent issues that haven’t been discussed in depth, but need to be: etiquette and privacy
First, when people are trying to work on their fitness, it’s incredibly distracting to look in the mirror and see someone near you, not only with their phone out, but panning around the room. Aside from finding this just annoying, most people don’t go to the gym camera-ready. Sorry, but most don’t have the time or desire to get all dolled up only to sweat off the makeup and ruin a good blowout. Not only do folks not want to be a part of these videos on principle, but they also definitely don’t want to partake when they are sweating like crazy.
Anyone who can’t make it through a 60-minute workout without documenting it is probably someone who most people wouldn’t come near with a bargepole.
Maria, a an avid gym goew says, “I’ve politely asked a few of these women to stop using their social media during an exercise class, and have been met with hostility. I’m told to pay attention and just focus on the teacher. These women apparently have social media channels that need to be constantly updated, and my discomfort or distraction during a class over their constant recording is of zero concern to them.”
If someone wants to take selfies or videos of themselves alone during their solo workout, go to town, but please, not in a group class. When you belong to a gym, you’re paying dues to be a member of a private club. It’s completely unacceptable to feel like your privacy is being violated.
In November 2016, a story on this subject made the national news. It involved former Playboy Playmate of the Year, Dani Mathers, who Snapchatted a photo of a nude 70-year-old woman at her gym and posted it with the insulting caption, “If I can’t unsee this, then you can’t either.” Dani was banned from the gym and charged with invasion of privacy, a misdemeanor. She now faces a fine and possible jail sentence.
This charge and potential consequence are severe because the woman was naked, the Playmate body-shamed her and the photo was taken surreptitiously. I wouldn’t suggest such a harsh penalty for ‘gramming people in an exercise class, but there should be some kind of policy in place to protect camera-shy fellow gym goers.
It might seems like folks are taking this issue on their chin, but if we don’t put a stop to this behavior in places where we’re supposed to feel a sense of safety, will it disseminate into even broader parts of society? Will it be okay for someone to take a photo of a stranger on laundry day, and mock them in front of however many followers they have? People have to sign a release when they appear on television, and isn’t social media becoming an extension of television, somewhat? Where is the line? It’s time to mark it very clearly, before it’s too late.