"...and what is good, Phaedrus? And what is not good?
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?" ~ Socrates, Plato's Phaedrus
JS: Dude. What in the world are you doing?
JG: Gaaaah. Gargle gargle.
JS: Why are you standing in front of the mirror with a camera phone in your hand and your mouth wide open?
JG: Why are you interrupting me standing in front of the mirror with a camera phone in my hand and with my mouth wide open? I'm taking progress pictures.
JS: Of what?
JG: My uvula. It's totally leaned out. Combination of diet and Serbian throat squats. I need to post my before and afters on my Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter.
JS: Before and after pics. Of your uvula.
JS: That's that fatty thing that hangs at the top of your throat.
JG: Yours may be fatty. Mine is ripped and rock hard.
JS: You don't see a problem with this.
JG: Not at all.
JS: Whatevs. Okay, I will grant you that it is kind of relevant to the topic today.
JG: Proper diet and exercise for uvula maintenance?
JS: No. Progress pictures, and posting them on the Internet.
JG. Oh. Not a problem. I think it's totally Paleo.
JS: I agree, but as you know, we are all about presenting both sides of every issue.
JG: Yep. My side, and the wrong side.
JS: Nevertheless. I do have someone waiting outside in the hallway who wants to discuss this with us.
JG: Look, I put up with this "imaginary character waiting in an imaginary hallway," thing while we were doing the book, but we finished writing The Tao of Paleo a while ago. Do we need to keep using this same plot device in our blog?
JS: Short answer? Yes.
JG: What's the long answer?
JS: F*ck yes.
JG: Okay, okay. Just bring them in.
JS: Everyone, I'd like to introduce you to Prudence Pervprevencia.
PP: Good morning, gentlemen. You can call me Prude for short.
JG: That's a lovely black full-body sack you're wearing, Prude.
PP: Thank you. I was trying for chic, while remaining completely asexual and amorphous.
JS: Mission accomplished.
JG: So the issue we're dealing with today is progress pictures and the common practice of posting them on various Internet forums. Taking progress pictures isn't particularly controversial. We all know that many Paleo trainers recommend taking them at regular intervals in order to accurately measure physical progress.
JS: Yep. They can be very useful tools. The mirror and our eyes can often lie to us, while a series of photographs are much easier to objectively evaluate.
JG: The question lies in whether or not they should be posted and shared on various social networking forums. Are public progress pics a good or bad idea?
PP: They are evil, and they must be destroyed.
JS: Prude, can you elaborate on that position?
PP: People posting half-naked pictures of themselves on the Internet? It's completely immoral and obscene.
JG: I'm not a big fan of judging what's moral and what isn't, and aside from that, how is the human body obscene?
JS: You can walk into any of the world's great museums and see that artists have glorified the human form for thousands of years.
PP: I don't want to have to look at all kinds of pictures of naked people. I definitely don't want my children, Paloma and Pablo Pervprevencia, to have to see such filth.
JS: If you consider progress pictures on the Internet to be obscene, then I have a novel suggestion for you. Don't look at them, and don't let your children look at them either.
JG: Joe and I are both parents as well. If we feel that our children aren't ready to see certain images, or certain films or television programs, we make sure they don't see them. That's part of the job of being a parent.
JS: And we agree that showing before-after pictures to a child who is too young may actually cause that child to have an unhealthy understanding of the body image and may lay the foundation for some serious eating issues to develop later in life. It is something that must be handled very delicately and something the parent needs to keep a close tab on should the parent decide to go there.
PP: The whole concept of progress pictures is wrong, anyway. It's nothing but a pathetic to seek approval.
JS: I don't know that I would try to paint people's motivations with such a broad brush.
JG: Agreed. I know that I am often inspired by the progress people make, and I've posted my own progress pictures in hopes of inspiring others. I can't say that it had anything to do with seeking approval, in my case.
JS: I approve of you anyway, Jason.
JG: Awwww, thanks Joe. Can I have a hug?
JS: Nope. Prude, I'd like to point out that seeking approval from one's peers isn't necessarily a bad thing, either.
PP: What do you mean by that?
JS: Some people battle valiantly against significant challenges in order find their Paleo Tao. They fight for years to get themselves healthy. Positive feedback from other humans along the way can prove very supportive and helpful. A few kind words- a "good job!" or "you look great!" might even mean the difference between success and failure.
JG: We are social animals, and kind words and encouragement from our peers are very important to us.
PP: I don't agree. In fact, I make sure I let people know how inappropriate their behavior is when they post those vile pictures.
JS: You mean you troll them.
PP: I prefer to say that I give them a nice, firm, morality check.
JS: The same way that praise can make a huge difference when someone holds themselves out in such a vulnerable position, negative comments can hurt in a uniquely damaging way.
JG: Didn’t your mother ever teach you that if you don't have anything nice to say, then shut your pie hole?
PP: My mother was the church lady from Saturday Night Live.
JS: Now isn’t that extra special?
JG: Joe and I have noticed that it's very common to see someone post a before and after progress picture on Facebook, for example, and receive dozens of positive and supportive comments, only to have that wonderful experience ruined by negative and spiteful trolling.
JS: We have a theory about it, in fact. We think that people often troll out of jealousy and insecurity.
PP: That's just ridiculous.
JG: Is it? It's unfortunately all too common that unhappy people will try to demean others in order to try to make themselves feel better.
JS: We've also noticed a dynamic quite common amongst women, where one woman will post progress pics and another woman will attack her, suggesting that she is immoral or compensating for lack of self esteem.
JG: We feel like it's just the opposite- that there's nothing more affirming than celebrating the successful creation of a healthy, vital human body.
JS: It's glorious, really. Again, we feel like it is actually the troller who is motivated by negative emotions. If you don't appreciate the pictures, you could just ignore them or say nothing. Lashing out implies feelings of jealousy. A person who is completely happy will rarely, if ever, say anything negative.
JG: It seems to be tied to a certain attractiveness threshold. If a woman goes from 300lbs to 200lbs, there is nothing but praise. But if she goes from anything to totally healthy and hot, then the hateful messages start. It's pretty clear that the issue isn't actually the nature of the pictures but rather the haters’ insecurities.
PP: That's the silliest thing I've ever heard. I could never be jealous of some strumpet who trots her goodies all over the Web for everyone to see.
JG: Oh boy. Hey Prude, the 19th century called. They want the word "strumpet," back.
JS: Are you sure you're not jealous or insecure, Prude? I can't get a good look at you under that sack you're sporting.
PP: I'm dressed modestly and appropriately.
JG: I'll say. All I can see is your eyes.
PP: (blushing) Only because I forgot my sunglasses.....
JG: Hey Joe, did you feel that gust of wind? Feels like there's a hurricane coming.
JS: Yep. We tend to get sudden and unpredictable weather events in our little dialogues, that mysteriously serve to move the plot along.
JG: Funny how that happens. Looks like Prude is having a hard time holding onto her sack.
PP: HELP!! My beautiful outfit...is...being blown....apart.......can't....hold....on.....
JG: Holy crap, Joe.
JS: That certainly explains a lot.
JG: I thought the eyes looked familiar, but I heard he died years ago.
PP: You filthy perverts. You'll burn for this!! You'll burn I say!!!
JS: It makes sense, though. I read something about them never actually finding the body.
JG: Reverend Falwell, would you please put your sack back on?
JS: Like, nowishly, if you wouldn't mind. The sight of you in your boxer shorts is a bit.... ummmm....off-putting.
JG: Nauseating might be a better word.
At least one third of the profits from the sale of this book go to The Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund