Making fun of wellness coaches or people who pay a lot of attention to their health seems to be the everyday business for journalists, at least on Dutch Twitter. And even though I understand how ridiculous these coaches or health gurus sometimes communicate with their audiences – often on Instagram – I also observe the behaviour on the side of my journalism colleagues. From what I learned through coaching is that if you get annoyed by someone else’s behaviour, it often reflects a need you feel inside of yourself. It doesn’t have to be the exact same need the attitude of this person expresses, but the two things are definitely related. Could ridiculing wellness by journalists on social media reflect their own inner need for a more healthy lifestyle? I wouldn’t be surprised based on the mental health problem our industry has.
The cynical colleague survives
Some journalists think their task is to criticize whereas the job is actually to be critical, those are two different things. When talking about being a journalist some colleagues immediately explain the passion or mission they feel in doing this work. A certain journalistic arrogance is not strange to us, right? We are the watchdogs of society, without us people won’t know the truth, but the trust we get from our audience is declining and the competition from other non-journalistic content sources is increasing. All of this creates a context where only a hardworking, cynical colleague or a focused undisturbed reporter can function well unless you’re equipped with enough resilience, self-confidence and inner peace to not let the crazy news cycle get to you. The bad news is that not everyone is born with a similar package of these three skills or abilities, and the good news is all three can be either built or strengthened. That’s where well-being comes in.
Old-fashion views on health
Another reason for ridiculing is ignorance, a lack of knowledge about wellbeing. And I think that is definitely the case in journalism as well. Most of the critique I read about the wellness industry comes from a superficial notion of what is really going on. It is one thing to pick on coaches who try to persuade their clients to buy another uncertified training of low-quality, it is another thing to dive deeper into the benefits of coaching and how it helps millions of people around the world to live a better life. And it is easy to laugh about health gurus taping their mouth in order to stimulate nose breathing, but why not finally write an in-depth article using scientific research (it exists!) to substantiate the guru’s claims. A lack of willingness in journalism to look into so-called alternative ways of healing causes a gap in society between the hardcore rational thinkers and the spiritual explorers. And the alternative ways are getting more and more back-up from renowned sources. Diabetes patients and people with high cholesterol who solved their illness by changing their diet aren’t the exceptions anymore. A herniated disc isn’t necessarily operated and doctors are openly asking for more holistic lifestyle coaches to join their medical practice in order to help people’s complaints for the long term. We are getting more knowledge about our bodies every day and there is still a lot we don’t know, yet in general, (health reporters excluded) journalists seem to stick to old-fashioned views and opinions.
The real truth comes through experience
Another thing I learned throughout the years, this came from practising Vipassana meditation, is the fact that knowledge only becomes a real truth when you experience it for yourself. The mental well-being problem in journalism shows there is an opportunity for colleagues to take their own well-being more seriously. Once that happens, the reporting about the wellness industry will go beyond the mockery and hopefully approaches wellbeing in a more serious manner.