As of the beginning of 2020, 21%, or just over one in five Americans owned smartwatches. That is up from 16% at approximately the same time in 2019.
I joined the smartwatch party in probably late 2016 or early 2017. Anyone remember Pebble? I’m honestly a big fan of the many great things my smartwatch does for me. Reminding me of appointments, faster notification of texts and emails, allowing me to listen to music and podcasts directly from my watch (well, I could, if AFAIK, I didn’t own the only mobile phone that is incompatible with my Fitbit smartwatch); no bulky phone to carry while running or riding my bicycle, tracking all of my athletic (activity???) stats, etc. All totally AWESOME stuff!!!
So here’s where I think it all gets a little dicey. Hold onto your hats, there is going to be numbers and math coming. My, lets just call it “generic” smartwatch, by default sets a 250 step per hour notification for nine hours out of every day, and every hour at ten until the top of the hour, it notifies me if I’m short on my step count that hour. It also sets a default daily step count of 10,000 steps. I won’t bore you with the detailed math, because math is just that, boring (apologies to physicists, engineers, all other heavy duty math folks and Mr. Bloomer, my seventh grade algebra teacher, who based on this article was sort of right that I would need math later in life. Still waiting for the day I’ll need algebra though and I’m still not the one that put that tack in your stool), but if we just do the 250 steps per hour for those nine hours, we’ll be 7,750 steps short of the 10,000 step total that my smartwatch has set for the entire day.
So I’m already anxious about my daily steps.
My smartwatch also tracks my sleep. The highlights being REM sleep, light sleep, and deep sleep. If like me, you don’t sleep enough, you’re anxious about that, and if you sleep too much, maybe you’re anxious about that (ok, I’m not ever anxious about sleeping too much). But you know there are some people that are anxious either way.
So now I’m anxious about the amount of sleep I’m getting.
Then there are all of the other apps that give you notifications. So now, not only are you getting them on your phone, but you’re also getting them on your watch. In my experience, notifications are way easier to ignore if you just get them on your phone. If you also get them on your watch, you’re just going to see them as you receive them. I know that’s by design, and I also know that you had really good intentions when you set-up your watch to get them. ALL of them. But face-it, when you’ve got 10 apps or more sending notifications in addition to just texts and emails, you’re already into overload mode.
Yes, I’m looking directly at you right now dear reader. If you have closer to 20 app notifications, how do you ever get ANY work done. By the way, full disclosure, I have at least eight to 10 email accounts alone. I blame Google. After all, they give them away for free.
I have a friend who is a bit of a Luddite. Doesn’t understand why people are always looking at their phones or how anyone could possibly find so much of interest on the Internet. Yes that person owns a smartwatch, but pretty much uses it just for telling time and tracking steps.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are anxious about getting our steps in, getting our sleep in, getting to all of our phone calls, texts, and emails, and then there are the notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, a myriad of dating apps, and my personal favorite, Slickdeals, in a timely manner.
So maybe we don’t all have to be Luddites, but maybe it is time for us to stop letting our smartwatches control us so much, and dial it back, even if it’s just a little. Life is good. Look up from your watch, and your phone, and enjoy it.
Note: all mathematics verified with the help of the Office Calculator app (math is hard) And if I didn’t mention your app above (Bezos???) Still looking for paid sponsors or maybe a free watch upgrade FB, or FB competitor. And yes, I know I’m shameless. Just kidding (wink wink).
Note 2: Between this and my last article I know it sounds like I was a bit of a, lets just say “precocious” youth (and no Mrs. Levy, it still wasn’t me that brought the dog into the dark room. I’m no rat, but it was Fred. Hey I’ve never seen him at a reunion, what’s he going to do to me?).