Can You Hear Me Now, Big Brands?
The Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty says that you can’t know both the speed and size of a subatomic particle at the same time. You have to stop the process to figure it out. Restated: Once you start to measure something, the “something” is changed.
I’m thinking about this as I happily glance at my iPhone to see my exercise app metrics for the day. I’m up! And the day isn’t half gone. I’ll think about it again in a moment, as I tap on my Fitbit, too. Although there’s nothing quite to compare with the vibration on my wrist to alert me the moment I’ve over-achieved here too.
I’m not sure my giddy self-congratulations is what Heisenberg had in mind, but I do know that measuring my progress on an (albeit stationery) exercise bike has compelled me forward all year long and in a direction I never imagined. I’ve always known I should work out, but now I actually do. Daily. From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Roughly 11 miles.
Simply put: I would not have succumbed to the siren call of the gym without the frisson of joy I get from keeping that daily performance line aloft, coupled with the attendant fear of disappointing my heart-shaped iPhone icon. This passive measuring mechanism has changed my health, I have no uncertainty about that. What I am uncertain about is why.
The totally neutral, almost Joe Fridayesque (Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am) is part of it. It is what it is. I did or did not pedal 11 miles. The lack of embarrassment is another feature: The reason we laugh at the V-8 commercial when the trainer slaps the client for not eating his vegetables, is that it detonates a genuine fear, if not an explicit memory.
What might this mean for Brands, I wonder. Ebooks that encourage us to read 20 pages a day? Refrigerators that remind us we have the makings of a Caesar salad on-hand? Smart foods able to issue our nutritional status report daily, suggesting quick fixes? I’m sure it’s all on the horizon. I’m frankly thrilled it is. Chase, are you listening? I want an Atta-Girl-App for my bank accounts.