We are all becoming first responders. And all diligently listening to and responding first and foremost to our wrists.
We used to listen to our left hand to see if our watch was still working. Now it’s to make sure our heart is.
When I married her, I didn’t know what a large amount of data my wife contained. When we got married, I didn’t know I was marrying a pedometer and altimeter.
My wife is a modern wireless-enabled woman. Her smart watch is an essential part of her wardrobe. It’s a vital body part. She feels naked, fat, ill, under-exercised and death-threatened without it.
Fitbit has transformed her life. And mine.
Walks aren’t the same. Walks aren’t walks any more. They are “real time exercise”. Walking is no longer walking. It’s “data collecting”. We don’t go out for a walk. We go out to generate, collect and collate information.
“Let’s go out and feel some sun on our faces,” I might suggest, shrugging into my kagoule.
And my wife, tightening her wristband, replies “Yes. I’m up for bit of outdoor journaling and in the mood to study the personal temporal associations between exercise and mood… You can’t beat a couple of hours regular quanti-metric self-sensoring.”
Then, I wait outside the back door for five minutes while she checks whether she needs to go to the loo or not and check whether she has had enough roughage.
Then five minutes more while she dials into her G new photoplethysmography algorithm to identify any atrial fibrillation risk.
Wellness trackers are now man’s best friend. We don’t take the dog anymore. We take my wife’s watch for a walk. We meet fellow walkers out for a bit of bracing body data.
We ignore their cute little dachshunds and pass no admiring remarks about their pedigree Alsatians. Now, we just fulsomely admire their water-resistant, self-tracking applications.
“What a cute Lunar White Fitbit Inspire 2!”
“What an adorable little Charge Soft Gold Charge.”
Last weekend, on one of our app-orientated ambles, we met and asked a man for the time. He consulted his watch and said “120 over 70.”
He apologized and then said “5.1 miles. 34 levels.”
Fitbit is he app-otheosis of digital trends. The latest must app-aratus. Fitbits live our lives for us. Apps dictate the way we live. They are the modern I-Ching.
My married life has become one long live stream of digital app-ercus.
“My glucose levels are chaotic,” my wife announced in a restaurant recently, having checked on her latest well-being management app.
“My blood sugar needs to normalize. And my carbo counter app says I have already reached my carbo limit. So, I’ll have to skip dessert.”
She even sets the alarm to wake her (and me) up in the middle of the night so she can be reassured about how well she is sleeping and the quality of her REM.
Her Versa 2 notifies her immediately if anything untoward is happening inside her body. It gives her traffic reports on the traffic in her lower intestine.
It’s so sensitive and caring that when we do go for a stroll, I expect it to start bleeping and tell me when I need to stop for a pee.
Status symbols are ever-changing. Once, you had to have a Filofax if you needed to tell the world what a disorganized, anal wally you were.
High-tech information tools that they are, Fitbits tell everyone what an enthusiastic and perhaps very successful hypochondriac you are. And how far advanced your Methusala Complex is. And how many steps a day you need to do to outlive him.
Health is the new wealth. Self-knowledge is power. The empirical has taken over from the abstract. No one meditates any more. A Third Eye and naval gazing are passe. These days, even Buddha wears a Fitbit. For inner enlightenment.
Life is getting noisier too. There are more interruptions. The background music to modern life used to be the pinging of the microwave, the whirring of the oven hood extraction fan and the throb of the washing machine on spin cycle. Now peace is shattered by health metrics alerts sounding on all sides.
You can’t seem to go anywhere without someone’s ova app phone going off, causing them to shout excitedly, “I’m spiking! I’m spiking!”
Life logging. Data fetishism. Self-knowledge through numbers. Self-quantification. Auto-analytics. Body hacking. Self-surveillance or souveillance. Personal informatics.
Whatever you call it. It is taking over our lives.
Obsessed by her data stream, my wife wants to get me a Fitbit. To improve my personal and professional productivity. And record how I spend my “active zone” time. As if the lawn mower, the wheelbarrow, garden kneelers and decanter levels aren’t clues.
Modern fitness technology will soon help us avoid unhealthy situations and pastimes. Just like cars which tell us how far we are from other cars and let us know how far we are from a hedge or wall our smart watches will soon be sounding warnings how after we are from the nearest butter and frying pan.
They will issue emergency health warnings.
“Indian restaurant 100m left. Danger! Danger! Approaching fish and chip shop. Take next left to avoid McDonald’s. Your aortal arteries are presently 23.6% clogged.”
GPS will soon tell us if we are abusing out bodies and inform us about the quickest route to the nearest personal trainer. And salad bar.
A Fitbit brings social app-robation. Our family won’t be complete without another Fitbit. We can’t stop at one. We now like to walk hand-in-hand to our nearest Ernest Moore shop.
Or, for a romantic treat, pop along to your local Currys where the Fitbit range is available, alternatively you can always visit their website: www.currys.co.uk.
As my app-arently app-solutely anatomically- app-rized wife has said on many occasions.
“Spending time together brings more satisfaction and fulfilment if the numerical data gathered helps us to take decisions concerning healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion to maintain or improve quality of life during our shared life course. Appy days!”
I’d like to think, as a married couple, we know our bodies better.
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Photographs courtesy of Currys