James Wolcott in February’s Vanity Fair
(!) tries on Quantified Selfing
in an amusing and quite Gimlety take on the idée fixe of many Digital Health types. He tries out activity trackers FitBit, Jawbone Up
(which maddeningly don’t correlate); the emWave2 Personal Stress Reliever
; the Pivothead
spy camera sunglasses to film the Movie of His Life. He lightly lampoons the NYC Quantified Self Meetup (one of many all over the world) likening it to a geek version of Weight Watchers (5-10 minutes of individual Show & Tell, applause, huzzahs of ‘carry on’). “With its continuous data streams and hive‑mind chatter, Quantified Self is Weight Watchers exponentialized, an emerging neuro-cellular confraternity.” How true, but at least with WW you did lose pounds. Witty observations abound, such as Quantified Selfing as an ongoing science fair (oh, those geeks again), and its historical roots in American self-improvement dating back to that QSelfer Ben Franklin tracking his progress on 13 virtues. The Gimlet Eye observes that Ben did not shun indulgence in beer, ladies (French and otherwise) or dangerous experimentations with revolutions and lightning, either.
Disappointingly–or ironically–at the end, in true VF style, he pirouettes to a volte-face, grasping for concluding points out of the kultursmog of politics, trends-on and philosophy, the weirdest being how Quantified Selfing may ultimately achieve Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point of supreme collective consciousness a/k/a Man Fusing With God. Now this the Eye does object to, believing far more in the Jungian collective unconscious, particularly after a gimlet (fresh lime, please) or two indulged in a pleasantly sociable watering hole, and that God’s last probable direct relationship with a Jawbone was empowering Samson to take one from a donkey and slay a few thousand Philistines with it. Wolcott’s real reason may be much more literal after his investment in all these ‘doodads’: “I better start getting my numbers up. Otherwise, I run the risk of my Fitbit telling me you suck, and the last thing I need is a personal heckler.”