I saw an advertisement on Instagram for a bottle that reminds you to drink. It aims to get you to drink at least two liters of water a day and does so with a graduated scale divided by side between morning and afternoon, with the hours marked: at 8 a.m. the level should be there, at 3 p.m. lower, and so on. Brilliant, isn’t it?
Now I must confess that I was led by its description to imagine a whole other thing, which then lead me to many thoughts exploding in my head, like a fireworks display. The claim said “The first water bottle that reminds you to drink,” and I thought it was talking to you or sending you a notification on your phone. I am imaginative, but I also know full well that our symbiosis with the cell phone is so perfect that anyone who wants to get into your head knows they have to go that way.
So I imagined that it sends you not only notifications but every time you drink it tells your phone that you did it. I imagined it had something in the cap or in the bottom, I don’t know, a sensor that notices that you’ve been drinking and goes and blurts it out to your phone. You know the Internet of Things objects that are getting smarter and smarter and talking to each other? This stuff.
The idea is not bad when you think about it: could you tell how much water you drink in a day? Do you remember to do that? This bottle through its app could know this and induce you-perhaps indirectly-to adopt virtuous habits, such as drinking regularly. If you people from Basika are reading me, well, you know who to thank for future versions of your bottle.
Distractedly scrolling through Instagram and seeing this sponsored one, I must admit that the first reaction was a little different. I’ve been thinking-maybe I’m an old-timer now-if we’ve really gotten to the point where things are telling us what to do. Are we no longer able to tell if we are thirsty or if our body requires water? Do we live so much immersed in the digital world that we have forgotten that we also have a physical dimension? In short: are we still able to feel ourselves, to listen to our bodies?
Technology can be a magnificent thing, and in so many ways it is. The quality of life has improved incredibly in recent decades precisely because of technological advances and how-in many cases-it has helped us live more simply. Think about how you pay for something today, how you find a restaurant, how you get rid of a thousand other things: by holding a tablet in your hand and pressing a few buttons.
This is not a passatist discourse of mine: I would not go back for anything in the world. I would have no desire to go to the library to try to learn about the life of some historical figure nor to the bank to withdraw money or a thousand other things that now take me three seconds to do.
However, what we have mistaken for the convenience of doing certain things more simply is the sharing of many details of our lives with an object, which is then connected to a thousand different services located who knows where.
That’s the price to pay, of course, and it’s not even the most interesting part, or the part I’m interested in saying now.
Can you feel yourself?
What I mean is that, really, we don’t know how to listen to our own bodies anymore, assuming we were ever able to. We think we need to drink only when we are thirsty (wrong: when we are thirsty our body has long since needed to drink, and it tells us so by shouting in its own way), we could not tell how many beats per minute our heart makes, we eat what we want and not what we should eat, simply because we do not understand much about nutrition.
So things come along to tell us to do it and how to do it. We may not be there yet but we will get there, and that’s perfectly fine, as long as we don’t lose the ability to listen to each other regardless of whether they tell us about the objects we use.
And in this case, excuse me everyone else, we runners are ahead.
Working out, being in nature, using our bodies has naturally led us to know them much better. Indeed, running allows us to have awareness of our physical existance. We know the effort it takes, we measure what it means to weigh too much by sweat, we speak to our heart and every organ that makes up us.
I wouldn’t know how people who lead sedentary lives could achieve this awareness. If you sit all day, if you don’t conceive of any effort other than moving as little as possible, let alone doing it for no reason like running, you don’t have many ways to talk to your body.
Maybe the objects will help you do that, who knows.
The only advice I can give you is still that: go running and you will understand many things.