A Love Letter to My True Passion Brand
I’ve been writing these posts for just about a year now. If you’ve stayed with me some portion of this time, I think you know me well enough for me to tell you: I’ve fallen in love. Head over heels, obsessed in love. With my new FitBit. Honest. I’m constantly checking in on its dashboard to see – you guessed it – how I’m doing. This is the absolutely ultimate in narcissism. Enough about the gadget: How many steps have I taken? What did I eat? What’s my resting heart rate? How did I sleep? No one has cared about my every movement since I was six months old. It is thrilling.
Several years ago, a friend of mine whose romantic relationship had suddenly evolved to a long-distance one was bemoaning his inability to just pick up the phone and casually call his lover to tell him about the “great blueberry muffin I had for breakfast.” I remember being nauseous. Really, really just weirded out by the concept of telling anyone what I’d had for breakfast and what I’d thought about it. But no more!
FitBit wants to know every morsel. FitBit wants to know how my workout was! FitBit wants to know if I walked the dog. And how far I went. Even better, FitBit knows. It knows better than I that 45 minutes on the elliptical is worth 247 calories. And, wonder of wonders, FitBit reaches out to congratulate me! All I have to do is walk 10,000 steps or drink eight glasses of water.
So beyond the ratification of my essential narcissism and the infantilization inherent in having my every heart beat monitored and spoon of gruel assessed, what is going on here? I am hoping these folks are sharing all this data with some pharmaceutical companies somewhere, for starters. We’re talking really, really Big Data. Almost certainly a huge sample size, definitely better than ‘self-reported’ behaviors, right? I hope they are creating an app to ensure users can send all this data to their doctors to be mined for insight at the individual level, too.
Secondly, of course, I think like a marketer. P&G used to pound into us that the hardest thing to do is change consumer behavior. Well, FitBit is changing mine, easily. I suddenly want to exercise a bit longer. I want to walk to a dinner party rather than hail a taxi. I want what in literature they call the ‘objective correlative,’ e.g. I want to know how FitBit thinks I slept, not just how I know I dreamed. Certainly, the buzz term ‘gamification’ is at play here, but there’s something more, I suspect. My algorithmic alter-ego is ushering me down a road I know I should go. Indeed, have known forever I should have trod. But now, one cheerfully monitored step at a time, I’m walking the walk.