Is a Fitbit a Diary? Self-Tracking and Autobiography

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Abstract

In a 2014 essay for The New Yorker, the humourist David Sedaris recounts an obsession spurred by the purchase of a Fitbit, a wearable activity-tracker that sends a celebratory “tingle” to his wrist every 10, 000 steps. He starts “stepping out” modestly but is soon working hard, steadily improving on the manufacturer’s recommended baseline. “But why?” asks Sedaris’ partner Hugh: “Why isn’t twelve thousand enough?” “Because,” I told him, “my Fitbit thinks I can do better” (n.p.).

The record of daily, incidental activity that the Fitbit collects and visualises is important to Sedaris as a record of his (increasing) bodily fitness but it is also evidence in another way, a testament to virtue and a correlate of self-improvement...
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalM/C Journal
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Fitbit
  • Activity tracking
  • Identity
  • Diaries
  • Self-tracking

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