BCM310, Uncategorized

Quality vs. Quantity

In a world that is increasingly becoming self-absorbed, technology is an easy thing to blame as it is constantly adapting to meet our everyday needs.

The true narcissist in all of us, is once again being awakened by new technological advancements which include the countless apps and devices that are tracking our health, fitness, lifestyles, sleeping patterns and who can forget our…ahh… bowel movements.

Society as a whole has set some of the most unbelievable and unrealistic standards of perfection – which are hard not to subscribe to – and for those who do not fit into the teeny tiny parameters, we are constantly fighting an uphill battle in order to achieve said perfection.

With hashtags such as ‘fitspo’, a nation gripped by the rising obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemics and the introduction of superfoods, technology has moved swiftly to accommodate for those of us who want to take matters into our own hands and improve our lifestyles by constant monitoring.

But by constantly monitoring our habits, are we only perpetuating these entrenched obsessions with numbers? From weight to whey and from sneaking an extra biscuit to skipping an extra kilometre, we are turning ourselves into number addicts.

Welcome to the quantified self.

The quantified self is any individual engaged in the self-tracking of any kind of biological, physical, behavioural, or environmental information – Swan, 2013

The quantified self, the numbers man, the digital dude. Whatever it may be, it is a craze that is sweeping the health and wellbeing community. Tracey (2013) found that seven out of ten adults regularly track some aspect of their health and over 60% of those adults track restrictively, their diets, weight and exercise regimes.

We have once again become slaves to technology. First it was social media and now it is the examination of ‘the self’.

Being able to measure something gives us the sense that we can control it. We can work to improve it, whether it’s a marketing campaign or our productivity or our health. Having measurements readily available can also make us forget about all the things we cannot measure – Walker Rettberg 2014, p.62

But the distinct line in the sand is yet to be drawn. The nature of these numbers means that it is a slippery slope into an obsessive addiction to track every minute, every detail of our lives.

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Gary Wolf ended his Cannes Ted Talk with this poignant statement:

The self is just our operation centre, our consciousness, our moral compass. So, if we want to act more effectively in the world, we have to get to know ourselves better.

But at what cost? By strapping a technologically advanced device to our bodies, does it really mean that we know ourselves better? Or give us greater insight?

Yes, you may know how much coffee you drink or how well you sleep. But what happened to just soaking up every ounce of the day and just experiencing life through your own technologically advanced devices – your eyes, your skin, your tastebuds and all the other wonderful senses.

I do agree, in part, that there is some benefit to knowing these numbers but only if you have a medical condition or need it as a way to kickstart your motivation. But I do not see the long-term benefits of knowing yourself through these numbers. What happens if you lose it? Will your brain forget to tell your body that you are hungry? Or that you will forget that consuming twelve cups of coffee may not be beneficial for you?

I would much rather enjoy the quality life by not having to worry about what the quantity of numbers say today. Eat that extra doughnut, walk that extra mile or skip it because you cannot be bothered, get to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

My philosophy is that we need to step away from technology and start enjoying what is in front of us. We do not need numbers and devices to tell us that going for a walk improves our moods. Life is about balance and I can rarely get numbers to balance for me.

Because when was the last time a number made you truly happy?

Sources:

Swan, M, (2013), ‘The Quantified Self: Fundamental Disruption in Big Data Science and Biological Discovery’ Big Data, vol. 1 no.2, p.5

Walker Rettberg , J, (2014)‘ Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves’ Quantified Selves, p.62

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BCM 332

Pernicious Paleo Pete

Last weekend I was in Dymocks in Sydney, perusing the shelves for something – anything! – that was light enough to read on coffee breaks from uni work but still interesting. I found Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I walked to the counter to pay and in front of me were two women decked out in Lorna Jane and Nike attire discussing their infinite love for a woman on Instagram who was a “wellness warrior”.

“I just saw her on Instagram and she looked amazing. I wanted to buy the book because all you do is eat like juices and healthy stuff.  She’s so amazing! You should totally do it too.”

*Cue eye roll*

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The latest trend in many circles are the diets that eliminate certain food groups so as to achieve optimum health by encouraging eating habits that are supposedly from our ancestors.

Yes people, the Paleo diet and the many other fads untrained, idiotic, self-proclaimed wellness warriors endorse. If you haven’t guessed, I loathe these people and the unwavering promises they make.

If you have been living in a cave – pun intended – Paleo is a simplified diet that is meant to mimic the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors. A somewhat restrictive diet that thrives off individuals eating meats, vegetables, nuts and fruit. It excludes some major food groups including all grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods. Even god damn coffee. What monsters.

But one of the biggest criticisms of this diet or ‘lifestyle’ is that they make huge, sweeping and false claims regarding serious medical illnesses and diseases. One that hits very close to home is the supposed ‘cure’ for Autism.

Casey Thaler of thepaleodiet.com claims, “the anti-inflammatory effects of a diet based on real, whole foods, such as Paleo diet, will certainly help many biomarkers related to autism.”

But it is people like Harriet Hall who are putting the story straight. Having done extensive research she wrote an article examining the new fad diets. She found (2014, p.12) that a 2010 review stated that eating more dairy products was associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and death.

However, these Paleo protestors will continue to “explain away all scientific evidence by accusing researchers of being controlled by the food industry” (Hall 2014, p.12).

The almost cult like tendencies of these diets are frightening with people claiming to have been cured from serious illnesses without the help of modern medicine.

I admit that we, as a society, need to drastically change our diets. But why do we need to eliminate the food groups scientists and nutritionists have found to be beneficial?

To be honest – and in my very humble opinion – anyone who wants to adopt the lifestyle of a Paleo diet should really, wholeheartedly adopt it. Live in a cave. Hunt with your bare hands. Forego all modern medicine, comforts and technologies. Because sitting there, in your lavish, ultra-modern house with all the creature comforts of the 21st century whilst preaching a diet that was created almost 2.6 million years ago seems like a double-standard to me.

But don’t just listen to me. Listen to the man who speaks for all of us…Charlie Pickering.

 

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