I believe the internet is the cause for a developing situation in bodybuilding. While on one hand it’s been responsible for the explosion of the sport’s exponential growth in popularity, the subsequent financial boom that has accompanied it, and an unprecedented number of competitors flooding onto regional and national stages, it’s also been the cause of an unappreciated crisis – the overeducation of the modern bodybuilder.
Similar to the way we’ve seen a dramatic shift in our eating habits over the last few decades that has caused a ripple effect to the tune of the declining collective health of the nation, the much more recent introduction of the internet into bodybuilding has completely changed the way we consume our information. The same way modern food processing has opened up the door, and the shelves, for a flood of low quality corn and soy based trash masquerading as real food; the internet has opened the proverbial floodgates for a gluttony of information to be consumed by the modern athlete. And while the precipitous decline in the nation’s health is readily apparent – and the primary cause for an impending healthcare disaster for that matter – the effects of the voracious overconsumption of information by both the old and new members of the bodybuilding world are a little less obvious.
Perhaps the thing we can point to being most responsible for the information tsunami that has washed over the bodybuilding landscape recently is the lack of accountability by self-proclaimed experts that the internet provides. In the not so distant past seeking out expert guidance was more than just a point click, and a few key strokes away. It was difficult to come by, and the collective pool of information that was available seems like a drop in a bucket in comparison to what we have before us today. Instead of guidance and mentorship centered on quality improvement and longevity bonded together by a personal connection, we have undereducated masters of the PubMed abstract quoting studies at nausem, playing the role of amateur endocrinologist, and charging extortionist amounts of money to their unwitting clients who are too blinded by their own delusions of grandeur to spot the proverbial snake in the grass.
With more pro cards being distributed at national level events than ever, we’ve seen a subsequent influx of overmatched athletes dive head first into the pool having barely gotten their feet wet at a local or regional level, end up finishing at the bottom of the barrel, and then turn around to offer up their “expertise” as a guru based on their national level “credentials” – becoming another stream that flows into an ever expanding river of ridiculous and unfounded claims by C minus students who are masquerading as valedictorians.
We have young, dumb, inexperienced, under informed, over-educated adult children turning themselves into walking pharmacies based advice they found on a message board that was delivered by a Dorian Yates avatar who had no credentials other than his eight thousand posts – which if nothing else proves that the bar of what passes as expertise is at an all-time low. We see so many who are willing to fight tooth and nail to defend their claims of chemical wizardry, yet those same people will turn into finger pointing accusers who are willing to cast the first stone at someone who suffers an arrhythmia from a haphazard dose of diuretics as they hypocritically claim that it was the user who was at fault for trusting information they read online, delivered by those same anonymous experts who get to sit comfortably guilt free behind the shield of their avatar.
Truth be told I don’t have a solution to this problem, nor do I think a plausible one even exists. After all, if the house is already engulfed in flames, all water can do is put out the fire. It does nothing to fix the irreparable damage that’s torn apart the structural integrity of what once was. But then again maybe that’s what needs to be done after all. If the structure can’t be repaired as is, perhaps letting it burn and rebuilding it from the ground up is exactly what needs to happen.