Recently at the theater I found myself struck by a particularly 2016 phenomenon. Every time the audience lifted their hands to clap, hundreds of Fitbit wristbands suddenly glowed in the darkness.
We’ve become a society enamored of measuring things. We carry and wear devices that track what we eat, where we walk, what we spend, who we know and where we meet up with them.
It’s kind of silly (and more than a little creepy) if you think about it. 10,000 steps. Endless pictures of well-plated meals on Instagram. 4 year olds who give practiced smiles every time a camera comes nearby. And selfies. Dear God, the selfies. We track and document random acts in hope that they’ll prove that we’re doing things right. That we have a handle on things.
None of it matters… and yet all of it does.
There is nothing magic in the measurements and nothing profound in the documenting of our lives. And yet, it is in these seemingly insignificant moments that our lives play out.
After generations whose lives were marked only by a journal or packet of letters or a stilted family photograph, we now see our lives and the lives of others in vivid detail each day around the internet. And yet, while we’re seeing more, we’re not necessarily seeing more of what is real. A highly curated social media feed doesn’t speak the truth of who we are, but rather the bits that we choose to present to the world.
Keeping track of steps and calories and blood pressure and cholesterol are ways to get a glimpse of our health, but none of them tell the whole story of what is going on inside of us, nor are they any guarantee of a healthy or long life.
The steps we take, the small moments and the big milestones, they all add up to create our lives. Together they determine our happiness and our ability to make a positive impact in the world. Small actions and small decisions can help us achieve our dreams or bury us under a pile of debt, poor health or deteriorating relationships.
Maybe in the mid-teens of the 21st century, our society has gotten a little too enamored with measuring things. But maybe we also are one of the first generations who will be able to look back at our lives and see all the steps – both grand and banal – that mark the winding road to who we’ve become.
Photo taken by me this past weekend on a day where I walked over 12,000 steps and 70 floors thank you very much.