Tag Archives: negative implications

When Quantified Self Goes Overboard…

From http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2154

Posted in News and Pointers | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Discuss: The Dark Side of Self-Tracking

Everything has a dark side (Photo by Pixelicus)
Can self-tracking hurt you? We mostly talk about the positive aspects of self-tracking here, but it’s worth venturing over to the dark side now and then. 

Take this comment from Stefan on a recent discussion post:

“After spending some time playing around with the idea of what it meant to have a ‘primary’ eye, I did the following experiment: I covered it with an eye patch for a day, to see if the ‘secondary’ eye would get stronger. Here’s what happened: I temporarily went blind!” 

Kiel replied:
I think Stefan raised an interesting point concerning the potential of self-tracking/experimentation to harm the subject. It might be interesting to discuss what negative experiences self-tracking has personally wrought and what we would recommend to make the experience less negative.”

Read Stefan’s and Kiel’s full comments here.

I’ve also explored the emotional dark side of self-tracking in my poem “Why I Stopped Tracking“, though I’ve since resumed tracking a few consciously chosen metrics.

So now it’s your turn. Have you had any negative experiences with self-tracking? Were you physically, emotionally, or psychologically harmed or bothered in some way? What are the pitfalls for new self-trackers to avoid? 

Discuss away in the comments below!

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Why I Stopped Tracking

stoptracking.jpgYes, I did it.
On a crisp Tuesday morning
After 40 measurements a day for 1.5 years
I. Stopped. Tracking.


When I first wrote about my tracking
People thought I was narcissistic

What they didn’t see
The self-punishment
The fear
The hatred behind the tracking

I had stopped trusting myself
Letting the numbers drown out
My intuition
My instincts
I was afraid
Of not being in control                            
Of becoming obese like my genetic predecessors                          
I was addicted
To my iPhone apps
To getting the right numbers
To beating myself up

Each day
My self-worth was tied to the data
One pound heavier this morning?
You’re fat.
2 g too much fat ingested?
You’re out of control.
Skipped a day of running?
You’re lazy.
Didn’t help 10 people today?
You’re selfish.

It felt like being back in school
Less than 100% on an exam?
You’re dumb.

I’m starting to realize
That I need to
Accept myself
That I’m more than the numbers
That I’m beautiful, strong, and super smart

I don’t need data to tell me that
And I don’t need to punish myself anymore

Will I ever track again?

Yes, probably
For a specific goal or experiment
Or to observe a pattern
I’ll try to keep an objective, non-judging eye
But then I’ll stop
When I’ve seen what I needed to see
And learned what I wanted to learn

Like any tool
Self-tracking can be used for benefit or harm

I won’t let it
Be an instrument of self-torture
Any. More.

Posted in Personal Projects | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments