Growing up Kharkov, Ukraine, I witnessed the state's control over information, the over-emphasis of results over process and the enforcement of a certain standards on individuals. More information led to more control, but could never answer the deep questions we have about the self. After the immigration, and living half of my life in America, I never stopped asking the same questions “who am I?”, or “what am I?”, and immigration perhaps even enforced this drive to know, even though I never faced the same type of control, I found that these questions stayed not only relevant but being replaced by “how am I?", answered often through measurements of bits.
Reading non-fiction books such as "To Save Everything, Click Here" by Evgeny Morozov that describes 'solutionism' in technology and the belief that complex challenges can be reduced and solved with enough data, I've also studied The Quantified Self Movement, which evangelizes "self knowledge through numbers", in one of the blogs I found this poem the describes the issues related to measuring life through data.
"Each day My self-worth was tied to the data One pound heavier this morning? You’re fat. 2 g too much fat ingested? You’re out of control. Skipped a day of running? You’re lazy. Didn’t help 10 people today? You’re selfish. It felt like being back in school Less than 100% on an exam? You’re dumb." -Alexandra Carmichael
Here the link to the original post .
It struck me that by trying to answer "how am I" question by measuring ourselves, we are also trying to find the ways to improve and in the process we are taking it to the next level we may start hurting the balance between natural and unnatural state of being, thus, changing our perception of what it means to be human.
Indeed, we are no longer using maps when we drive cars. We use GPS, following the blinking dot from point A to point B. Technology should aim at increasing human abilities. Same as the first tools in the prehistory helped man physical capacity, the new technologies of today offer the opportunity of increasing our physical and mental capabilities. But what are the side effects of measuring our moods, emotions and even feelings?
What if we had sensors installed in every corner of our households like GPS in the car which would measure and guide us through our relationships, which we find sometimes so puzzling and fail to resolve? A blinking dot of perfect life.
TQS film is a fictional story where I try to imagine that world, where the relationships in family are no longer to be trusted unless they are not measured. “If you know the number, you can always do better. “ – says Lozinski, father of two competitive twins.
Today I created a pilot - a short film called The Quantified Self. Where well-meaning parents turn the self-tracking into a family religion, the consequences fall outside the quantifiable.