Brandon Lirio thinks social media is bullshit and the users are the ones who killed it – effecting bodybuilding in a profound way.
Like it or not, social media is a way of life across the world. This is true no matter what circle you socialize in. It’s true in nearly all industries and job sectors. It has become a part of day to day life. This has been for connecting people in brand new ways and, in bodybuilding, providing new platform opportunities for athletes, businesses, and fans alike. Unfortunately, it has also proven to help stoke division, arguments, and toxic behavior. This affects bodybuilding in a major way due to the entire enterprise revolving around subjective opinions of a person’s body.
That’s why Brandon Lirio connected with Generation Iron Brands LLC founder, producer, and film director Vlad Yudin. The two sit down for a video discussion about the current state of bodybuilding and how it intersects with social media. Is social media making content worse? Is it hurting the sport as a whole? Or is it simply making us more aware of what was already out there. In this week’s episode of the U-Natty States Of America podcast, Brandon Lirio debates with Vlad Yudin about the death of social media and how it can take down bodybuilding with it.
The concern of toxic activity on social media is not a new one. In fact, it is probably more discussed than ever before on the international stage. Whether it’s politics, teen online bullying, pop culture, or sports – there has been a growing dark cloud over social media.
Brandon Lirio believes that the blame is less on the businesses who run social media – but the users who engage with it. Controversial content wins more eyeballs. This has been true since before internet with tabloid magazines and paparazzi. The instant connectivity of social media has brought it to a tipping point. Will social media survive it? And will certain industries such as bodybuilding take damage or fall in the process? Let’s jump into it.
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The manipulation of supply and demand
Brandon Lirio is a bodybuilder who uses social media to interact with his fans and promote his athletic career and his business ventures. Vlad Yudin is the founder of Generation Iron Brands LLC – a media publishing website with a social media network of 1.2 million followers. These two perspectives come together in this week’s episode of the podcast in hopes of discovering some common truths.
One such truth is the notion of supply and demand for social media content. When asking why social media has become so toxic – a quick answer is that content creators simply publish topics that get the most attention. This often involves controversial, shocking, or deeply opinionated content.
So does that mean users are to blame for the toxic energy dividing people online? Brandon Lirio seems to think so. At least from his perspective in bodybuilding – he’s worried that our demand for shocking content is blinding us from getting actual in-depth information about the sport we love. It then breeds a new generation of toxic fans who only want to disrupt things, get attention, and don’t deeply care about the sport in the same away past generations did.
Vlad Yudin looks at it from a different perspective. The supply and demand of content is being manipulated by a loud but minority group of fans. The general concept is this – people who are happy with content don’t comment about how much they love it. But people who are angry about content will be very aggressive about denouncing it.
Vlad also points out that businesses have metrics they can look at that audiences don’t see. So while fans can see YouTube view counters, comments, and likes – they don’t know how that translates to actual views or sales.
“Is bodybuilding serious? The answer is – no, it’s not that serious. But it’s serious to me. As in – it’s serious for the people passionate about it but not the larger world population and that’s okay.”
– Brandon Lirio
Is there really no such thing as bad press?
The old saying goes – any publicity is good publicity. But is that really true? Vlad Yudin brings up his conversations with the late Rich Piana while filming Generation Iron 3. Piana didn’t mind toxic or negative comments. He saw that as a sign that his content was eliciting a reaction. And any reaction means it is engaging people. More importantly, odds are there are more people not commenting who feel positively about something. So the more negative comments he would get – likely meant there were also even more fans enjoying it.
But Brandon Lirio worries that, while this is true, it incentivizes more people to put less energy in good content and more into cheap shocking content. Then one day, we get to a point where there is no good content at all. He believes we are seeing that happen today on all fronts. News is more negative and focused on sound bites. Athletes just want to be insta famous rather than the best athlete in the world. Online articles are more about beating Google’s SEO algorithm and less about unique insightful content.
Vlad Yudin counters by saying he believes truly good and unique content will always float to the top. Perhaps social media has pushed the pendulum too far into one side – but it will eventually swing back. That’s why Vlad aims to push Generation Iron towards always focusing on true human and dramatic stories first. Sometimes the headline or the movie trailer might be shocking – but underneath it all is true intrigue and human stories.
Vlad thinks that if any business, athlete, or influencer focuses on this first and foremost. Then they will survive the onslaught of negativity, toxicity, and the potential downturn in the popularity of social media (if it ever really does die).
Bodybuilding is a subjective sport that, in some ways, is more similar to modeling than other athletic endeavors. It requires everyone – judges, fans, and fellow athletes – to judge the bodies of physiques on stage. In today’s world of social media toxicity, that can be very damaging to bodybuilding culture. In a world where every commenter thinks they are right – can bodybuilding still find a common ground?
It’s not an easy topic to answer with so many variables at play. But Brandon Lirio and Vlad Yudin look at it through many angles – both insider and outsider – and hopefully provide insight into the current state of bodybuilding compared to the social world at large.
You can watch Brandon Lirio and Vlad Yudin’s full discussion in the latest episode of U-Natty States Of America above. Make sure to check back every Wednesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.