THE AMERICA ONE NEWS
Jun 16, 2024  |  
0
 | Remer,MN
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM Sports Media Index – Perfect for Fantasy Sports Fans.
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM Sports Media Index – Perfect for Fantasy Sports Fans. Track media mentions of your fantasy team.
back  
topic
NY Post
New York Post
8 Apr 2023


NextImg:FitBit fatigue: Is your fitness tracker just making you miserable?

Do you ever feel like your life is dictated by numbers — from the numbers in your bank account to the step count on your fitness watch?

You are not alone.

Advertisement

We are surrounded by numbers like never before.

Humankind now generates more numbers every day than all the numbers generated between the creation of the first clay accounting tablet in Uruk 5,000 years ago — and the year 2020. 

This number epidemic is having an effect on us, say economics professor Micael Dahlen of the Stockholm School of Economics and marketing professor Helge Thorbjornsen at the NHH Norwegian School of Economics. 

Counting numbers can make us greedier, more selfish, less motivated, and can even lead to depression, the authors warn in a new book, “More Numbers Every Day: How Figures Are Taking Over Our Lives — And Why It’s Time to Set Ourselves Free.” (Hachette).

Advertisement

Studies have found that milestone birthdays (30, 40, 50) make people feel on average 2.4 years older than they would on a routine birthday.
Shutterstock

“The pedometer counts the steps for you,” they write.

“Facebook counts your friends for you. Today there are counters for everything you do in a day. And at night too, for that matter.”

Numbers affect us physically and mentally, they warn — and we are in danger of becoming ‘number capitalists,’ exchanging the numbers in our lives for cheaper deals from large corporations feeding our personal data to artificial intelligence.

Advertisement

The authors advise taking a “number vaccine” to lessen your dependence on the numbers in your life — and free yourself from thinking about everything in numerical terms. 

“Facebook counts your friends for you. Today there are counters for everything you do in a day. And at night too, for that matter.”

Micael Dahlen and Helge Thorbjornsen

“Perhaps you’ll decide that some parts of your life can actually be de-quantified. Or that, at the very least, you could do with a temporary number detox,” they write.

“In any event, we think that everyone would feel better for getting vaccinated against numbers, so as to be able to choose for themselves how to handle them.”

Advertisement

How numbers shape your feelings

How much do numbers affect us? Numbers influence us physically, including how much weight people can deadlift, with experiments showing that American bodybuilders hit their wall at 225 lbs because it’s a neat number. 

American bodybuilders tend to hit their wall at 225 lbs because it’s a neat number. 
Shutterstock

The researchers say that an effect known as SNARC (spatial-numerical association of response codes) means you look downwards as you count down, and are more likely to turn left if you are shown a low number. 

On “milestone” birthdays (ie 30, 40, 50) you don’t feel one year older — on average you feel 2.4 years older, the researchers say.

What is your favorite number? Most people pick the number seven, according to research with 44,000 people by British author and mathematician Alex Bellos (hence, perhaps, the seven deadly sins, seven seas, seven days in the week — and the seven dwarves. 

So what can we do about this?

“We are number animals and are influenced by numbers whether we’re aware of it or not,” write Dahlen and Thorbjornsen.

Advertisement

“For that reason, be careful with them, for both your own and others’ sakes.”

By focusing on measurement, a person might become obsessed with numbers instead of jogging for enjoyment.
Shutterstock

Numbers hurt your self-image

Numbers also affect the way we feel about ourselves — in particular, numbers that relate to money and social success.

Advertisement

Just looking at money or thinking about it makes us stronger and self-confident, scientific studies show — but also more focused on ourselves. People who pick up money feel less afraid of death.

An experiment by the authors showed that people who monitor their financial data become more work-focused, more selfish, and even more xenophobic.

People also become more insensitive to the needs of others, less considerate, and less social.

Social media can have similar effects.

Advertisement

Researchers found that people who receive a lot of likes on their pictures, feel increased satisfaction with life, self-confidence, and lowered stress levels. 
Shutterstock

The researchers did their own experiments with social media and found that people who receive a lot of likes on their pictures, feel increased satisfaction with life, self-confidence, and lowered stress levels. 

“One of the reasons the number of likes has such a direct and immediate effect on self-confidence is that they make social comparison so incredibly simple,” write the authors.

“Two numbers are extremely easy to compare. Two vacation pictures or two pictures of a plate of food are not.”

Advertisement

Numbers such as BMI and credit ratings provide us with ways to compare everything with other people — and intuitively, humans compare ourselves upward rather than downward, looking at people who are “doing better” than us. This makes us dissatisfied. 

“Numbers, especially in social media, can be addictive,” write the authors.

“Do a detox now and then.”

People tend to compare themselves upward rather than downward, looking at people who are “doing better” — which can lead to dissatisfaction and depression.
Shutterstock

Advertisement

Numbers can rob you of your motivation

The Quantified Self-movement preaches that measuring numbers such as heart rhythms and blood sugar can make you superhuman, according to the movement inspired by Timothy Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Body,” with promised results including increasing fat loss by 300% and allowing 15-minute orgasms for women.

But does technology and measuring the numbers it logs actually make us healthier?

Americans believe this, with more than 40% believing that self-monitoring increases athletic ability and reduces fat.

Advertisement

“Measurement can lead to decreased motivation and to self-deception,” write the authors of “More Numbers Every Day.” “Be honest with yourself.”
Shutterstock

But there’s actually very little evidence that using devices to measure performance has any significant positive effect. 

“The majority of the (few) controlled studies that look at the effect of smartwatches, step counters, and various forms of logging of health data find a significant but relatively weak positive impact on the person’s health and performance,” write the authors.

“We run a little faster, lose a little more weight, or perform a little better. But just a little.”

Advertisement

The researchers say that a study by Jordan Etkin at Duke University shows that measuring performance actually harms motivation — and over time, people cut down on the activity they are doing and enjoy it less. 

There’s very little evidence that using devices to measure performance has any significant positive effect. 
Shutterstock

By focusing on measurement, it takes the person’s attention away from the activity itself — so people who once enjoyed jogging for fresh air and a chance to listen to music, instead obsess over numbers. 

“Measurement can lead to decreased motivation and to self-deception,” write the authors. “Be honest with yourself.”

Advertisement

Number vaccine: Measuring yourself leads you to cheat

We are all becoming ‘number capitalists’

In 2018, insurer John Hancock Insurance announced it was selling ‘interactive’ life insurance policies that collect data through wearable fitness trackers such as Apple Watch and Fitbit. 

The authors encourage running for the fresh air — not for the heart rate monitoring or step measurement.
Shutterstock

Advertisement

People who do not use the devices pay higher premiums. 

The apps we use offer big companies information such as geolocation data, health data, number of followers, and how warm our living rooms are. In return, we get more personalized services, accurate advertisements, and cheaper services. 

These algorithms are all “self-improving” via artificial intelligence and deep learning — using neural networks to “learn” from large amounts of data in a way that mimics human brains. 

More Numbers Every Day: How Data, Stats, and Figures Control Our Lives and How to Set Ourselves Free by Micael Dahlen and Helge Thorbjørnsen

Advertisement

Some of these models are “black boxes” where we have little insight into how the AI makes its predictions. 

One Nordic bank developed a deep learning model which could predict when people were about to default on loans — but was forced to retire it when they couldn’t explain how it worked. What else is happening to our private data inside these ‘black boxes’? 

“Think carefully before you exchange your numbers for money,” write the authors.

“Are you quite certain that you want Google, Apple, and the rest of them to know everything about you, your family, and your health?”