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Nov 21, 2018

Health Goes Tribal

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Tribalism and Echo Chambers – It’s for Health Too

Have you ever engaged with someone of an opposing political viewpoint on social media and successfully change their view? No? Well get used to the same happening with health and wellness.

In the past, health was equated with avoiding substances like fats and carbs, and this was generally considered something that worked for anyone who tried it. However, in today’s world of social media and blogging, consumers are seeking their echo chambers of health the same way they use them for lifestyles and politics. They’re finding niche or individualized plans that meet their own specific goals, as opposed to plans that work for the average person. And just like other echo chambers, oftentimes consumers follow plans promoted by bloggers rather than sound science.

This helps explain why the most common diet is one of our own making. The rules are set by ourselves to meet personal goals. It also explains why we hear about the rise of lifestyles like paleo, Whole30, and plant-based, which have some conflicting rules. But those engaged in them have found their tribe.

The internet is playing a role in driving tribalism, much as it has guided other aspects of our lives. Health professionals, friends, and family used to be our go-to sources for information on health, but the rising number of bloggers and online communities allows consumers from anywhere on the planet to find like-minded individuals. For example, nearly 60 percent of consumers who engage in clean eating research their foods online.

My coworkers do intermittent fasting, extreme fitness plans, and other routines they all swear by, but when I get their details I can’t even think about doing them. Within my office we have several tribes and it’s like this all across the country. We have lively conversations about what we do but rarely convert someone to a new behavior. The key is to show flexibility and demonstrate that your solutions can fit into myriad tribes.


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