I try hard to keep up, to stay abreast of what is happening. I really do!
I read the New York Times on a daily basis. The Week, an excellent weekly condensation of news from a variety of sources, arrives every Friday. And I tune in nightly to several different news channels on television. In addition, my work involves many committees and meetings with people considerably younger than myself.
But lately there have been several times when I have felt I am living in a foreign country, or perhaps on a strange planet.
I came across this question on my computer recently: “Can I use the Fitbit flex without the wireless sync dangle?” Not having the foggiest idea of whether either of these was animal, vegetable or mineral, I did some research and found that Fitbit is a popular new device that looks like a watch and keeps track of pulse and heart rate, your workout summaries, sleep tracking, all-day activities, number of steps taken, floors climbed, active minutes and calories burned.
While I know exercise is good for everyone — and we all should probably get more than we do — keeping track of how many steps climbed or how many hours of deep sleep we get a night seems like a lot of unnecessary and almost obsessive trouble. For the legions of us trying to lose weight, I found that there are also many new devices and websites offering help.
There is, for instance, the gram-o-meter, the Fat Secret (couldn’t they have come up with a better name than that?) and My Fitness Pal, which features a message board where subscribers offer advice to one another on topics like overcoming binge eating. Membership to the site is free, but, of course, there is also a “Shop” area offering all kinds of exercise and weight-loss accessories.
My Fitness Pal has the most comprehensive list of the exact number of calories and chemical content of most popular brands of food. After figuring all of the ingredients of every bite of food involved in a typical meal, not only do I have a headache, forget ever enjoying food again.
There must be a less compulsive way to sensible eating. One of the newest technological advances which I haven’t tried is virtual reality; a device that through the use of goggles or a headset imprisons us in a programing experience that will have major positive and negative effects.
According to a New York Times report, “you are swaddled in goggles and headphones with the result that your power-forward senses (sight and hearing) are steamrolled by a visually and orally complete universe that seals out opportunity for doubt.” While the proposed medical and research uses for virtual reality are exciting, the possible misuse is indeed scary.
For every new invention, from the steam engine to the telephone and the automobile to the computer, we pay a price in a lost way of life.
Occasionally, looking back, we realize perhaps it wasn’t worth it.
Contact Jean Cherni, senior adviser for Premier Transitions, a full-service program for seniors contemplating a move, at email@example.com or 49 Rose St., Apt. 510, Branford, 06405.