The Slendertone as a parable

My wife recently brought to my attention the fact that ongoing excesses in eating habits and a lack of exercise have predictably caused a corresponding increase in my waist size. So, as this seems to be more or less a yearly event, and because I have had success with this in the past, I dutifully logged onto the Internet, looked at the newest shiny waist-reduction tech out there, weeded out the obvious snake oil, researched the rest, and chose a device that many people seemed to have had good results with. And, voila! The device came in the mail a couple of weeks ago; I’ve been using it regularly; and it feels like it’s working. Problem solved, right?

Well, let’s take a step back and consider. While using the device seems to be solving my immediate problem, the overall result is that it has enabled me to engage in a reoccurring cycle of gaining and losing weight that is most certainly not healthy. Secondly, it is possible that, once I get to my desired waist size, I may use this as an opportunity to eat even more (while using the device to stabilize my weight), such that I become dependent on the device to support my eating habits. Finally,  I may begin to eat to the point that I gain the weight back even while using the device, in which case I will either need to upsize to a more powerful device, buy two, whatever. Rinse and repeat.

So, it appears that the problem is not solved. And why is this? Because the underlying problem is not that my waist is too large. The underlying problem is that I eat too much. The tech is enabling me to reach a short-term goal, but the long-term solution is to alter my eating and exercise habits.  This is not a problem that technology can solve. This is a problem that only I can solve.

There are many answers to problems out there that can only be enacted through the use of technology. But it can also be used to enable a continuation of destructive behavior until a bigger problem manifests itself (such as a heart attack). And, worst case, it can even become part of the problem.  Thus, the moral of the story: technology can inspire us; technology can enable us; but, by itself, technology cannot save us. It is merely a means to an end. Thus, fracking and magic battery tech will not save us from the fact that we use too much energy in this country. Thus, killer drones will not save us from the anger that causes people to climb into airplanes and fly them into buildings. Thus, the “cloud” and all the social media it supports will not save us from the increasing alienation many of us feel from those around us.

Only we can solve those problems.

That being said, please excuse me while I go change the batteries in my Slendertone…

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Filed under Parables, Snake Oil, Technology

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