In a technology-obsessed world, we tend to track everything we do. Technology seems to make use of the human nature with all its curiosity and aim at perfection. With the self-tracking fever hitting people all around the world, everything suddenly has a tracking system to prove it is heading in the right direction. You can almost measure anything and everything with the various gadgets and gizmos in your smartphone: the number of pounds you are supposed to lose, your blood pressure, your pulse rate, your meditation cycles, your mood swings, your baby’s sleeping pattern and your nicotine intake. Is there an app for measuring your skin tone? Let me check…
Self-tracking enthusiasts (or one can say fanatics) are obsessed with tracking and recording every single detail about their lives. The reason behind this is to lead a happier, healthier and also more balanced life. Come to think of it, minute details in our lives might actually affect major decisions. How many meetings did you miss because of that extra glass of vodka? When was the last time you thought you should stop before you added another scoop of ice-cream to your waffle? And honestly haven’t you ever thought it would’ve been better to detect your father’s stroke earlier, had there been a stroke-progress-tracking app on his iPhone?
Technically speaking, the self-tracking apps measure your daily routines and movements through low power wireless transmitters which transform existing objects, such as scales and pedometers, and pair them with specialized algorithms to calculate the desired results. For commercial, wireless-enabled wearable gadgets like Fitbit, the data calculated is uploaded automatically to the internet and through a simple twitter connection you can tweet your progress through whatever goal you set or calories you burned.
For patients with chronic conditions, this is a major leap in the favor of quality of health. Blood pressure patients could monitor their pressure constantly and frequently. The app would alert them if any susceptible rise or irregular measure was read. Diabetic patients would find it easier to monitor their blood sugar level and avoid hypoglycemia (severe low blood sugar level) or hyperglycemia (severe high blood sugar level).
The thing with self-tracking is that it allows for experimentation and connects various factors together to get better outcomes. Some people might measure how some exercises are better for balancing their nocturnal sleep cycle or whether a certain type of food triggered arousal. There are no limits to self-tracking and it could also be incorporated into performance assessment at one’s workplace.
But doesn’t self-tracking turn the regular person into a detail-obsessed freak? Wouldn’t it be better if we left some of our daily routines untouched, away from the microscope? Setting the medical and the tech-savvy gadgets aside, tracking your sexual habits, comparing partners and sexual positions is not a good thing. It takes away from your creativity and the beautiful aspect of “error” that one doesn’t seem to realize unless he/she gets to live in perfectly -and annoyingly- calculated world. How about tracking your mood swings, wouldn’t over-thinking your mood actually lead to a worse mood?
Like everything else in our modern world, self-tracking has its cons and pros. Apart from the debate, one can’t deny the revolution that it made in terms of helping patients with chronic illnesses, programmers and athletes. Let’s just hope that a tiny, non-robotic spot is saved for our humanity with its trials and errors.
Written by: Jaylan Salah