How Many Steps Did You Take Today? The Pros & Cons Of Sharing With Wearable Tech
Self-measurement is all the rage these days and wearable technology is getting more popular by the day. Yes, we’ve had apps that do this for ages, but these are things you actually wear all the time. Are you into it too?
Wearable tech covers devices ranging from old-school calculator watches to walking step counters and heart-rate monitors. The latest evolution of wearable trackers involves social media — in particular, the option of sharing your measurements on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere.
But should you? Is it in your best interest to share your electronically-tracked progress (both successes and failures) with everyone in your social circle? Most people go ahead with it without batting an eye, but hold on a second. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. As it turns out, sharing is a double-edged sword.
It keeps you accountable. For some people, fewer gestures are more motivating than announcing your goals to the world.
“I’m going to lose fifty pounds this year!” Having made such a proclamation, you’re left with no choice but to achieve that goal lest you end up looking like a failure to everyone around you.
Sharing your progress publicly can be a good way to keep yourself going. If no one else knows, you could quit progress at any time and there wouldn’t be social consequences. For better or for worse, the threat of social embarrassment is a powerful motivator.
It makes you feel good. One reason people love to publicly share their progress is that it allows them to be part of a greater community than themselves. If you’re training for a marathon and share your progress over races, other runners can join in and encourage you. The power of a social bond is extremely strong.
On a deeper level, it just feels good to be able to vocalize your successes. “Look at me! I’m down to 150 pounds! Woot!” Do it too often and you may stray into narcissism, but there’s nothing wrong with periodically reveling in the glory that comes with progress. When others join you in celebrating that glory, success tastes that much better.
Few people actually care about your progress. Do people really need to know that you lost five pounds this week? That you’ve been sleeping seven hours a night instead of the usual six? That you’ve bumped up your daily cardio routine from eight to ten miles? Your closest friends and family members might care. Everyone else? Probably not.
Have you ever logged onto Facebook only to find your wall plagued by annoying photos and status updates from people who feel the need to keep the whole world updated on their day-to-day lives? If you publicly share your progress too often, you may peeve your social media contacts. Do it enough and they’ll likely stealth block you.
You’re giving up privacy. “Privacy” has been a searing hot buzzword for a few years now and it doesn’t seem like it’s going away any time soon. Yet, while everyone is busy fighting to reclaim their privacy, it’s puzzling to see just how much information we willingly give away every day. The next time you share something, ask yourself: “Do I really need to make this public?”
Think of the social impact it could have. Are you sharing something that might paint you in a negative light if a colleague or employer stumbled across it? Think of your safety. If you announce to the world that you go to the gym every day at 10am or that you always run through the local park, you could be giving the green light to potential burglars. Or worse, stalkers.
You’re less likely to follow through. Back in 2010, Derek Sivers gave a TED Talk titled “Keep Your Goals to Yourself” in which he described a phenomenon called “social reality.” In essence, when you publicly state that you’re going to do something, your brain tricks itself into thinking that it’s already accomplished it, which drains some of the drive behind said goal.
This sounds contradictory to the pro listed above regarding accountability and in some ways it is. The social reality phenomenon is undoubtedly stronger in some folks and weaker in others. You should know yourself well enough to decide whether this is true of you. If so, you may want to reconsider sharing your progress with others.
Think that’s interesting? Check out these TED Talks about psychology to see how else your brain is affecting you in ways you’ve never considered.
I think it comes down to moderation. There’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing the data tracked by your wearable devices but you also don’t want to overdo it. The ideal scenario would be to extract as many of the pros as you can while avoiding the cons.
Do you have wearable tech? If so, do you like to share that information with your social circles? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
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