Egging Us On

I was traveling myself when I got my Fitbit, and because the tingle feels so good, not just as a sensation but also as a mark of accomplishment, I began pacing the airport rather than doing what I normally do, which is sit in the waiting area, wondering which of the many people around me will die first, and of what. I also started taking the stairs instead of the escalator and avoiding the moving sidewalk.


To people [...] like me, people who are obssessive to begin with, the Fitbit is a digital trainer, perpetually egging us on. 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.

This bit from the essay “Stepping Out” from David Sedaris' Calypso made me think about how technology can egg us on in different ways.

In my case, a bot that publishes every weekday to my blog at 6:00pm has made me do strange things — bring my laptop out to write while I grill dinner, get a few words before the deadline while talking with someone on a phone, sign off from work a little earlier to write.

Beyond habits, my writing subjects have expanded. Before I wanted to write loftily about tools for thought. Now, because this bot eggs me on, I type out words about more personal matters — music, video games, food, work. That breadth wouldn't have come easily without the bot.

Interesting how that can work.