Statistical Overload in a Digital World

It’s tough living in the digital world we live in. I mean, sure, we have touch-screen phones and all, and there are many conveniences that we enjoy that our forefathers did not. But life in the digital age is drowned in statistics. Many of those statistics, their purpose is to help you maximize life; instead, they only remind you of how much you are not comparing to others.

If you own a FitBit or other piece of equipment that sucks data directly from your body, you wake up in the morning and get statistics on how you slept. You step on the scale, which not only tells you how overweight you are, but also gives your BMI (which is just great for a wide-framed person like me), and somehow gives you the weather, so you can prepare to be overweight in the cold rain. You take a shower and dry off with a towel…those aren’t digital, yet (because you know someone’s working on it).

digital data hallway

Yay, time to have breakfast and prepare your lunch for the day! Your Keurig makes three different sizes of coffee, it just depends on how much caffeine you desire and how much science tells you to consume before you start acting abnormal. If you have an Elite version it might even brew a cup at a certain temperature (goodbye, Sanka!). You look in the fridge to make a sandwich and the fridge displays the temperature. Back in the old days, your grandfather stuck his head in…if it was cold, and the milk didn’t taste sour, it was working fine.

You made your lunch, congrats. You’re already paces behind what you should be, if you’d only ran in place while taking a shower you’d be on track. You lazy bum, you better find a way to make that up. FitBit doesn’t care you only slept five hours because your pre-schooler wanted to sleep in your bed and kicked you in the back all night dreaming they were playing soccer and fighting their sister.

You have everything in your car, and you start it up. Oh look, one of the 345 computer gauges is lit up. I know you didn’t let your tires dip below 32 PSI, are you mad? Are you trying to waste fuel, because the dashboard says you’re only getting 30.4 right now, you should be around 32. You don’t have satellite radio in your car because you didn’t major in international finance and you didn’t go viral on YouTube, but hey, you’ve got your cell phone, which at this point could run several countries. You have countless options for music, information, the weather (why do we need to know the weather ALL OF THE TIME?), and you can even set the home alarm system. You can even check the in-home camera just in time to see the cat peeing on your couch.

At work, regardless of what you do, you are analyzing numbers more and more, even in service industries. All the while, you are continuously thinking about the amount of sleep you got and how to improve. I know you’re not eating chocolates that are hiding in the drawer, and there’s no way on God’s green earth you had a doughnut your colleague brought in. Have you not checked your steps today, you’ve traveled NOWHERE! By the way, what’s the weather?

apple-ecosystem

Speaking of work, you have to check your email every ten minutes. Stop Tweeting! Production is important, and according to your numbers, you’ve got to pick it up. You also need to plan dinner, so you should probably look for the coupon deals. It’s not just digital stats that overwhelm you, you know? You’ve also got nutritional values and scientific research to deal with. For instance, is red meat good or bad?  Well, it’s not good, but you need iron, and what food has more than any…bingo! Oh, and it tastes good too, but of course, your blood pressure is an important statistic too. How about alcohol? Research indicates that moderate consumption is good for you and that if you drink too little, none at all, or too much you will die sooner. However, if you drink moderately your neighbors might think of you as a moral and social pariah. Cow’s milk? Has there ever been a more steady decline in opinion of a food product, even though our ancestors trudged through gallons of the white creamy goodness?

It’s afternoon break time and your FitBit might as well be a scorned lover. Are you serious that you have moved this little today? Where is your motivation, are you trying to mail it in today? You are so far behind right now, better think twice about all those snacks and if you dare put creme in that afternoon cup of coffee…

Ok, let’s stop there. I think you get the point. Where does the obsession for “maximization” stop? In the quest for trying to get the most out of life we are merely constantly reminded how much we are not doing. It’s a stark contrast to our grandfathers, who ate when they were hungry, played/exercised when they felt like it, and went into their job to, um, do it. They also never slept enough, which is why they took naps all the time in their 80’s. They didn’t need data to tell them what to do, they just lived.

digital ball of data

Data and statistics aren’t bad. As a matter of fact, we can agree that they are necessary. If you’re in the ambulance, they kind of need to know your blood pressure and heart rate. In my opinion, it’s the same concept as money. You have to have money, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to earn more. When the quest for more outweighs the end goal of living comfortably, however, you can admit there’s a problem. The same principle can be applied to statistics in a sense. If your drive to sleep better, eat better, work harder, and drive your car more efficiently outweigh the success you feel for doing those things, it’s becoming too much. Live life with perspective…and don’t pay attention to BMI.

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The Beginning
About Mike Crider

Mike is a school administrator and father of twin daughters. He enjoys writing about his adventures as a father of toddlers at his blog "Twin Dad Talks: Thoughts on Raising Twins, and Everything Else". Mike has also contributed for Good Men Project, Grown Ups Magazine, TWINS Magazine and Multiplicity Magazine. He also hosts a twitter chat called #TwinsChat for parents of multiples, which runs on Monday nights at 9 pm EST.

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