30 Jun It’s Complicated Digital Detox Podcast with rower Pete Reed
In the first episode of Season 4 our founder Tanya Goodin sat down with three times Olympic Gold Medalist Pete Reed to talk about his experience with screens and social media. Tanya and Pete have known each other for eight years, since the London 2012 Olympics. Throughout the episode, they discuss their evolving views on tech and life, highlighting how much has changed in just under a decade. It was only in 2014 that Tanya started Time To Log Off and began speaking, writing and evangelising about the need to switch off our devices. Since they first met in 2012 Pete has experienced a lot of change, he won his third gold medal in 2016, retired from rowing in 2018 and then in late 2019 experienced a spinal stroke meaning that he is now paralysed below the chest. Pete’s focus and determination are impressive and he brings his athlete’s mindset to everything he does in rehab.
Is he an ‘influencer’?
Though he doesn’t claim to be an influencer in any way, Pete has made a great impact online both before and after his injury. Throughout 2018, he posted daily on social media under the hashtag #AthleteAdvice sharing wisdom with the world. Though this was an incredibly positive and well-received use of social media he acknowledges that it was a stressful time and that the omnipresence of social media exacerbated it – even at its best social media can be addictive and exhausting. The posts themselves ranged from the more niche such as to not post your accreditation online (it is ID after all) to the more impactful, reminding us that 1 in 4 people suffer from bad mental health and that this is higher amongst athletes. Technology has also always been at the forefront of his thinking, both in the positive and negative sense. He and Tanya both share a passion for innovation and an interest in what human ingenuity can create, but this is tempered in both by an awareness of the potential addictive qualities of social media in particular. Pete feels this so much so that in 2018 one of his pieces of advice was to switch off.
Throughout the conversation, Pete Reed repeated “I don’t know what I use social media for”. He is not an influencer in the traditional sense, or a content creator as a career, instead he posts about what he deems important, to help able-bodied people understand disability more and to give representation for those who have been too often overlooked. This is powerful in and of itself. Pete talks about his dislike of the majority of social media: a “showreel of perfection” and through avoiding that in his feed he is making a difference. People rarely post about catheters and bowel movements, yet they are displayed in technicolour on Pete’s feed and though he doesn’t think the future will contain a Paralympic attempt (sadly for rowing fans) he still took part in a virtual boat race last month from his rehab facility. Nothing stops Pete Reed!
We hope you got as much out of this podcast interview as we did. As we look to the future and towards a hopefully more healthier and happier tech-life balance we should all take Pete’s advice: take an hour every day to spend with someone you love offline and write down what you did. It gives two forms of accountability and after two or three days of doing this we’re all much more likely to keep it up, it’s better than mindless scrolling any day!