Taylor Owen Mason, a resident of St Athan, is planning to slam a sledgehammer on a tractor tyre around 28,000 times over 24 hours in what he has dubbed the "Mighty Hammerthon" to raise money and awareness for a project that aims to change our relationship with social media for the better.
Taylor is planning to hold the event, which will see him slamming a sledge hammer on a tractor tyre just over the equivalent amount of times as pairs of steps it would take to complete a marathon, at Force Strength and Conditioning in Llandow in around April this year - depending on Coronavirus regulations in the country - and is raising money and awareness for THCT, The Center For Humane Technology.
The THCT movement focuses on the link between mental health and social media, believing that we should all consider our relationship with technology and social media to increase our well-being. On his GoFundMe page, Taylor explains:
"One of the most staggering juggernauts of mental health problems is social media, not only has it massively correlated with mental health statistics including suicide in children and rates of depression, but having experimented with its usage myself, I can reassure the validity of the effects it's claimed to have on our mental well-being.
"It is for this reason I have decided to choose THCT as my non-profit organisation for The Hammerthon. You may be familiar with TCHT if you have watched the dramatised but informative Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ which featured one of TCHT’s founders Tristan Harris. It’s highly informative of the unethical way social media can be used to influence politics, behaviour, and profits.
"I am not anti-social media, I think it’s a wonderful tool for connecting with others, producing content, and starting businesses when used right. I am simply pro a happy, strong, healthy mind and platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Google & Tinder that employ the psychology of behaviour modification in their algorithm and the use of negative/ positive emotional feedback loops does not contribute towards that goal when used without caution. It abuses what is very well known about forming addictions."
Taylor explained his own personal journey with social media and elaborated upon his reasons to raise money and awareness for this project when speaking to Bro Radio:
"For the past two years I’ve played around with social media by taking time off, tweaking how I use it and what apps I use. It 100% effects my mental health which I think like almost everyone I’ve had my ups and downs with.
"A creative called Matt D’Avella got me interested in this so I started taking long periods off social media or only used it for promoting the challenges (so no scrolling through boredom) and it definitely helps keep me happier.
I’d tried talking about this with friends, family, and people I work with but they looked at me crazy (bit like Platos analogy of the cave).
"Eventually the conversation got momentum and the movie ‘The Social Dilemma’ got released on Netflix by the non-profit organisation The Humane Centre for Technology so I had a lightbulb moment to contact them and a few weeks later I knew I wanted to raise money for them so they can help shape the current social media landscape."
Taylor is no stranger to an impressive fundraising feat, having previously raised money for Mental Health Research UK in a tractor tyre push. Taylor shared his inspiration for these challenges with Bro Radio:
"Well there’s a lot of things that built up to me starting these challenges. I use to be super overweight when I was younger, despite loving sports I was always obese but I got honest with myself about my lifestyle when I was 16 and ended up dropping from near 250lbs down to 170lbs in just four months through gruelling 3 hours sessions in the gym of cardio and basic weights, cold showers, and healthy eating.
"Ever since then I’ve had a huge interest in the power of the human spirit and I see these challenges as a way to directly explore that. I try to base them off old stories and myths like Sisyphus or Thor because it’s fun, it feels more like an adventure and it raises more attention to the charity."
With only a couple of months until the event, all being well, training has begun for the Mighty Hammerthon. Taylor shared his process with Bro:
"Jack Spillets of Force Strength & Conditioning is my coach as he was for the last challenge.
"We mainly use strength & conditioning principles to train me so for example this first month of training has been to generally prepare my base strength & fitness for more intense training so I’ve been doing a mix of powerlifting, running, circuits and more. As we move forward things will start becoming more specific to the challenge and the fitness requirements.
Outside of what Jack has planned for me I use a lot of breathwork and cold showers so I can recover super fast, I’m a big Wim Hoff fan!"
You can find out more about Taylor's fundraiser on his GoFundMe page, here.