The object in the photo is my recent Fitbit.
If you aren’t familiar with the self-tracking craze that’s sweeping the nation, and I sincerely hope you aren’t, the word “Fitbit” will mean nothing to you. I regret to say that Fitbit is a little electronic pedometer that you put in your pocket, whereupon it tracks the number of steps you take, the number of “floors” you climb, how many miles you’ve traversed, etc. It wirelessly uploads this useless information to your computer, where your overall degree of sloth is calculated and, if you wish, saved for posterity, or even (although I never went this far myself) posted to the Fitbit social network. Fitbit also sends you annoying little inspirational messages on your smartphone during the day, such as “Almost there! Just 9568 more steps to meet your goal of 10,000!”
10,000 daily steps is the default goal Fitbit sets for you. I don’t know why. I usually hit that mark around tea time, after which it starts sending me messages accusing me of being an “overachiever.” I shit you not. That Fitbit, much like my mother, is never satisfied.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to get one of these Fitbits because I noticed that I am on my feet, schlepping hay and horse shit and whatnot, more or less from dawn til dusk, and was curious to know how sanctimonious I should be about it. It turns out I can be moderately sanctimonious. However fascinating it may be, though, my stunning feats of daily caloric expenditure in the line of farm duty are not the subject of today’s post. The subject of today’s post is the utter unsuitability of the Fitbit for even the mildest of rural environmental conditions. To wit:
Like any rational horseman — or, if you prefer (though I sincerely hope you don’t), “horsewomyn” — I believe wholeheartedly in the efficacy of bribery as it relates to favorable outcomes in equine encounters. Thus it is incumbent upon me to keep diagonally sliced carrots in my left pocket; it is so written in the Code of the Crones. So this morning, pocket stocked, I schlepped out to the paddock to remove the heavy winter blankets with which yesterday’s gale-force winds had compelled me to outfit the horses last night.
That wind was no joke, by the way. Things that should never be airborne, like wheelbarrows, garbage dumpsters full of foul-smelling cat food cans, and thick clouds of pulverized horse manure (you’ve heard of white-outs? Imagine a poop-out, and you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of my day yesterday), were flying hither and yon as though gravity were just a figment of some 17th century boffin’s imagination. At one point I saw Elmira Gulch hurtling over my hay barn on a bicycle.
Anyway, when I went to pull her rug off, Ginger Rogers stood like a marble statue despite taking several unnerving static shocks from the satiny blanket lining. To reward this saintlike behavior I gave her a couple of carrot slices. I was just about to move on to the next horse when I noticed old Ginge chewing weirdly and making the “this tastes gross I’m gonna spit it out” face. It was almost like she had just been fed, oh I don’t know, an Ikea meatball. Or, it dawned on me, a tiny electronic pedometer that was suddenly not in my pocket anymore.
I don’t know if there are data to support the hypothesis that Fitbit ingestion may adversely affect equine digestion, but I didn’t wait around to Google it. I pried open Ginger Rogers’ face and extracted, sure enough, the Fitbit. A Fitbit, it turns out, is exactly the size and weight of a diagonal carrot slice, such that it had been indistinguishable from same by my gloved hand.
As you can see in the photo, the Fitbit was only minimally gnawed and salivated upon, yet its brief excursion into the dainty maw of my little 1200-pound horse has rendered the thing completely inoperable. Unacceptable! If their pedometer can’t survive a little horse chomp every now and then, how will it fare when I get bucked off, or when a tractor flips over on it? Fitbit should announce that their product is defective and issue a recall.
Meanwhile, now that I’m Fitbit-free, I discover that I had become strangely obsessed with knowing how many steps it takes to get from the bathroom to the well house, or the distance I travel when mucking out a paddock. There’s an emptiness now, an auto-cataloguing void that I suspect can only be filled by posting pictures of everything I eat on Flickr.