Monday, March 31, 2014

Are You Walking Faster to Get Your VivioFit to Like You?

After you got yours, then began to wear and get used it, you began noticing it on others.  At first, you were merely curious, looking for some kind of common denominator.

But in the weeks that have past, your curiosity began to turn toward cynicism. Was the commonality a reflection of the love of gadgetry?  Was there some aspect of personality, simultaneously hidden and obvious?  Were you wearing yours as a form of token membership in a fad?  Is your continued use of your device in any way a betrayal of your sense of outrage at the gathering and holding of personal information by government agencies and various communication-related businesses?

Thus do you tread with some regularity on the narrow cusp between conspiracy theory and the writer's talent for spotting dramatic genomes, then developing them into story.  If it has not already been said, you are willing to be the speaker:  The unspoken strength of a writer resides in the ability to exaggerate the ordinary.  Stephen King has not only become iconic in his ability to cause us to fear elements found in kitchen drawers and garages, he has established himself as the go-to person when we wish to be frightened by yet another ordinary thing.

You first noticed such a device on Mike Takeuchi.  His was the Nike Fuel Band.  Wearing such a device made sense to you on its face; Mike is a sports writer.  He files stories on college and professional sports, is an avid bicycler, seems to seek an active life.  His eyes emitted a constant, merry twinkle as he showed you how the Fuel Band captures, then sends data to his computer.  Steps taken.  Laps swum.  Miles walked and/or bicycled.  Calories burned.  Of course time of day and digital calendar, obviating the need for a wristwatch.  The wearer is thus informed and current.

The next person you noticed was a photographer who has, so long as you've known her, been religious about workouts, many with weights. An active person even without the workouts, her dog is the beneficiary of at least two vigorous walks per day.  Her weapon of choice is called the Fit Bit, which records and transmits to her computer the same data as the Fuel Band.  In addition, it is tethered with a scale, noting increase or decrease in body weight, computing such vital ratios as muscle mass, and monitoring heart/pulse rate.

You were so impressed with the Fit Bit that you gave one particular model of it to your literary agent as a Christmas gift.  Giving such a device as a gift can be a mine field if doing so in any way provides the sense of you being the one suggesting the recipient needs to diet.
Your agent's long-term change in eating habits and her satisfaction at losing weight gave you the green light to chose the Fit Bit as a Christmas gift.

Your own choice, after asking a number of wearers of different types, is the Garmin VivoFit.  Your weight has remained pretty much constant over the years to the point where you do not think of it so much as an issue as an awareness that it hits or dips just below one hundred eighty during times when you are consistently active.  For you, the concern is the sedentary aspects of your daily routine and your wish to make sure you get up, out, and about with regularity.

VivioFit even goes to the extent of showing a red bar across the top of the viewing screen when it thinks you've been sitting for too long a period.  Since you've had and used your VivioFit, you have managed to increase your times out of a chair, and you've been motivated to extend your evening walks to the point where you are now experiencing that borderline muscle sensitivity you so enjoyed back in your running days, prior to hip replacement.

The VivioFit goes out of its way to encourage you by congratulating you with a green bar on your performance chart to signal you taking more steps and burning more calories than the quota it assigned you based on your height, current weight, and age.  You sense it wanting you to succeed, which brings you to your growing issue with the VivioFit and your return to questioning Fit Bit and Fuel Band wearers.

Much as you appreciate the thought, you are not interested in this for congratulation, you are doing this to give you physical opportunities to feel good.  When you are out walking about or standing from time to time, you are perfectly capable of giving yourself mental or interior reasons to feel good, thus tethering with the physicality of the VivioFit.  You are not doing this to feel congratulated.  So far, there have been two days when your schedule caused you to respond with bare, minimal workouts.  You neither expected nor did you get reproof or reproach.  VivioFit did not tell you, Hey, you fucked up, even though it had no way of knowing you were rather pleased with yourself for doing the minimal walk on those two occasions when you broke from routine.

Your VivioFit, shrewd in so many ways, has no way of knowing you've come to resent the congratulations when you exceed the quota it set for you.  VivioFit is not shrewd enough to understand how, most of the time you exceed the quotas it has set for you, that you do so because you were abstracted, thinking things about story or classes or your general existential focus.  You were in a sense, "in" story.  The extra physicality is an appreciated bonus, but it was in real effect brought to you by those same wonderful folks who brought you any connections you might have with creativity.

You do not care if your VivioFit likes you or not.  You bought it and wear it to remind you to stand up from time to time and to get yourself out into the starry night, where sights, sounds, and smells play their part in calling your attention to small things.  You do not seek these small things the way Stephen King's reader might seek them, which is to say in order to inflict fear upon yourself.  There are already enough things to be fearful of. 

 Some of these things to fear are closer to hand than such issues as global warming, fracking, and the insidious attempts being made to keep individuals of certain ethnicity and age from voting in general and local elections.  Some of these things wash over you when you read the commentary on so many Internet sites, even those sites that speak in direct cadence to your own political views.  

This commentary reflects a sense of being brainwashed, lied to, betrayed, and duped.  Even more than the fear you get from reading Stephen King, you live in fear that you will stop questioning, stop learning, and fall into a benign state of wanting your friends, your culture, your university boss, the Dean; and various editors with whom you have dealings to like you.  Much less do you wish your VivioFit to like you.

You want the awareness to stand up from time to time to blunt the effects of sitting.  You want the tingle of being out somewhere, city, beachscape, mountains, desert, to walk about, looking for little things, then, in the process, to connect those little things in your thoughts,braiding them into strands which will become story, once you work beyond your awareness of quotas and suggestions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Shelly,
By coincidence, I read a chapter by Joyce Carol Oates last night on the importance of running and writing. She also sanctioned walking for triggering creativity.
So I took a walk to K-Mart and ended up dodging several cars. I came home with a cheap pair of shoes and a tad more oxygen.
I'll do a more idyllic walk tomorrow.