The Things You Own, Own You: Fitbit Edition

David Sedaris has apparently tired of writing comedy and switched to horror. In a recent issue of The New Yorker, he chronicles his adventures with a Fitbit, a device one wears on one’s wrist to track one’s steps and also, in a larger, metaphysical sense, one’s “health.” We pay for accessories to make our lives more enjoyable, or, failing that, at least to make them longer. We do not expect our gadgets to go all HAL 9000 on us. Unfortunately, in Sedaris’s case, that is what happened:

During the first few weeks that I had it, I’d return to my hotel at the end of the day, and when I discovered that I’d taken a total of, say, twelve thousand steps, I’d go out for another three thousand.

“But why?” Hugh asked when I told him about it. “Why isn’t twelve thousand enough?”

“Because,” I told him, “my Fitbit thinks I can do better.” … At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that I’d advance to sixty-five thousand, and that there will be no end to it until my feet snap off at the ankles. Then it’ll just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground.

I not only understand but identify with this: I too have the kind of obsessive personality that would make a Fitbit ($99.95) not a helpful toy but a cruel taskmaster. If you’re into cruel taskmasters though there are plenty of other options. Wirecutter recommends the Vivofit ($130). I recommend walking as much as possible and saving both your money and your sanity but YMMV. Literally.