My cellphone spies on me. The phone and its ever-increasing array of apps, evidently added whenever I engage in one of the required software updates, seem to be constantly monitoring my activities, conducting some kind of unknowable, algorithmic analysis, and then sending me unwanted messages to announce their conclusions. As a result, I get weird, random notices like “you’re using your phone less this week than last week.” Since I don’t personally log the time I spend on my phone, I have no way of knowing whether these reports are accurate or not. I guess I just have to take my phone’s word for it.
This week I got a new message, one that I think came from an “exercise” app that was added in a recent software/operating system update. The message said something like: “Hey, you’re using the stairs more than you usually do!” My initial reaction was that it is creepy that my phone is tracking my stair usage and trying to function as a kind of clapping, enthusiastic personal trainer, urging me to get off my keister and continue to increase my daily count of steps. But then I wondered how in the world my stair count has increased, as I have not been making a conscious effort toward that goal.
After some careful consideration, I realized that the phone’s stairstep analysis had to relate to a domino-like series of events at work. The first domino was that the coffee maker on my floor stopped functioning. That meant that I walk over to the nearest coffee maker on my floor, which happened to be one building over–a journey that requires me to go up and down the five stairs shown above. Add in the fact that I guzzle a ridiculous number of cups of coffee each work day, so that I have been constantly ascending and descending these five steps, and you evidently end up with enough stair usage for my phone to take notice and send along some encouragement.
My initial reaction to this realization was to be surprised that even a few trips up and down five steps would make a difference to my phone. Then I thought that maybe, to keep my phone pal happy, I should continue to use the coffee maker in the next building, even after my coffee maker is fixed. And I also started to think that maybe there were other things I could do to add a few additional stair-climbing episodes to my workday, so that my phone and its apps will be even more thrilled at my efforts.
Why should I care whether my phone thinks I’m a lazy lard-ass? I don’t know, but I do. Having a Type A, get a good report card mindset in the cell phone age has its challenges.