by Moira Weigel
This is thought-provoking article asks us to consider activity trackers, specifically the Fitbit and what they mean for how we relate to ourselves, other people and our environment. It covers many of the areas you would expect.
Individualism and Productivity – Activity trackers take our focus on the project of the self and individualism and manages to turn a healthy attention on fitness and health into one focused narrowly on industrial capitalist style productivity and potentially unhealthy self consciousness.
Reductionist – Like Facebook and online dating have done for interpersonal relationships, Fitbit reduces fitness to data points without any context whatsoever. The point isn’t improving your quality of life, its increasing your productivity and winning.
Competition – Of course where there’s productivity there is often competition, in this case with ourselves and with others. If you haven’t moved in a while it will even remind you of that fact and encourage you to do so. It also embraces what I think of as misguided attempt at gamification which is widely used, where you can compare yourself to your friends of others with online connectivity and with your past self. It gives you badges when you have achieved certain milestones. This adversarial way of relating to others and yourself has even been extended to meditation. The Headspace mindfulness app has run streak targets and badges for when you achieve 3, 10, 15. 30 etc days meditating in a row.
I think it is interesting that at the same time as we are slowly beginning to realise that it is by co-operation, collaboration and openness that we will overcome a variety of challenges we face on a number of levels from individual communities to the global, that a hyper-individualism, adversarial culture is being advanced. All framed within a positive health and fitness focused, self-improvement guise.
What this means for how we see ourselves is where this piece is most interesting. It brings in the concept of confession and whether it will affect men more than women.
Incidently, the site I found this article on is called thenewinquiry.com. I have yet to fully explore it but it seems ridiculously readable.