Wednesday 18 September 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'I'm lying to my Fitbit so it can lie back to me'

'I'm burning thousands of calories every day, which I don’t quibble with'
'I'm burning thousands of calories every day, which I don’t quibble with'
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

In the unlikely event that I murder someone, I don't want Alexa to be there to witness it. As I write, Amazon has just been ordered to produce recordings from one of their Echo devices that may have recorded a double murder in a house in New Hampshire.

If you never want Alexa to record you murdering anyone you could get an Alexa and promise to yourself that you will never murder anyone. But we all know life doesn't always turn out as you plan, and people get carried away, so I think the safest route is not to buy an Echo, and to keep Alexa out of the house. Speaking as someone who, like many of you, has in the past broadcast private moments on a baby monitor, I just wouldn't trust myself with Alexa around, quietly recording me and judging me, even though she would be feigning neutrality.

I think, in the long run, I could be right about this one. My track record in this area is pretty good. I think my refusal to get involved in social media speaks for itself at this stage. Everyone else seems to be trying to cut down or get off their social media right now because it's turned out to be a bad idea. To which I can only say, what has changed to make you realise this? Wasn't that obvious from the beginning? I mean, I'm a fairly simple individual and even I could tell that social media wasn't going to end well.

Not that I'm not going to get myself in serious trouble some day with texts or emails. So far, I've only been caught out on fairly innocuous things, a bit of a cringe and palpitations as I press send on a text or email to the wrong person while simultaneously realising it's the wrong person. But someday, when all the emails and texts come out, my true bitchy nature will be exposed.

All of which is a long-winded way of me saying that I am surprised to find myself wearing a Fitbit, which is essentially a watch that tracks your every move and how fast you do it. What's more, as a person who is so paranoid I didn't avail of the free medical check-up the company recently offered us, I'm surprised to find myself having warm feelings towards the Fitbit.

I don't need to explain to you the reasons why I am against the idea of the Fitbit. It is probably summed up in the fact that you have options at the beginning of who you want to share your data with. I didn't look into this much before I clicked to share nothing with anyone, but it strikes me that there is perhaps some kind of Fitbit community where you share your movement and exercise with your Fitbit buddies. I will not be having Fitbit buddies, or joining any kind of virtual "community".

What I do like is that my Fitbit flatters me. For example, I apparently have the resting heart rate of some kind of elite athlete. Which can't be right, so there must be another, really bad reason, to have a low resting heartbeat. But part of me wants to believe it, so I just think, ''Yeah. Why wouldn't I have the resting heartrate of an athlete?" It also tells me I'm burning thousands of calories every day, which again, I don't quibble with.

I also seem to do a lot of steps every day. Part of this is to do with the fact that I haven't told my Fitbit overlord that I have long legs and thus a long stride, so I get credited with more steps than I actually do. And part of it is to do with the fact that the Fitbit racks up 3,000 steps for me every morning when I swim. Both these things are probably easily fixable, but again, I seem not to have got around to it, so the congratulatory buzz to tell me I've done my 10,000 comes earlier every day. And yes, I am aware of how pathetic it is that I am lying to the Fitbit so that it can lie back to me.

The other thing is that the Fitbit is actually encouraging me to do more casual exercise. I'm more inclined to use the stairs at work, which incurs imaginary pointless brownie points, and I'm more inclined to walk somewhere even when I'm feeling lazy. I haven't actually taken up any real exercise, but definitely, being monitored is nudging me towards what the Yanks would call better choices.

Anyway, right now I note that my heart rate is running at 68 from all this exertion so I better have a rest to get it back to the usual 56.

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