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By Laura Lee Flanagan

“Unfair Advantages” always sounds, well, unfair. In our collective unconscious, we’ve been trained to believe “fairness” is the gold standard; what we should all strive for. Well, some shit just isn’t fair, and it’s a damn good thing. Some of us are born with abilities that set us apart, and some of us are trained. Abilities that make us better, and get the whole community to a better place; think Mozart.

As a group, New Yorkers have a lot of unfair advantages. Must I say it? “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” The best, the brightest, the most beautiful…they all come here. They live and work here, and some make it. When they do, we all benefit from their unfair advantages.

The FitBit is a device that measures unfair advantages. Well, that’s not what they would say; they would say it measures activity. But if you are a New Yorker, you will know the truth of it. I work for a “healthy company.” Most of its employees live in New Jersey. We were all given FitBits. When I received mine, I laughed like the jerk I am and told them I would kick all their asses. Yes, I am fit, and live a pretty active life, but beyond what I consider my normal “fitness” routines, I live in Manhattan. I walk everywhere; they live in New Jersey, they drive everywhere; competition over.

Three weeks in, I have learned so much more. Yeah, New Yorkers walk everywhere, but the unfair advantages do not stop there. I am a native…born and raised. I am completely neurotic and OCD. Tethering a small object to my body to track my activity level is just the thing I need to send me over the edge.

 Offbeat: Too Fit for the Bit
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Laura Hill

I happened to be ethnically a part of a people who speak with their hands; there are lots of us in NYC. If I wear it on my wrist I get points for just sitting around and chatting with my mom. But I realized my legs are more active than my hands, so within the first week it went into my shoe; no matter what shoe I had on.

 Offbeat: Too Fit for the Bit
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Laura Hill

But the little unit slipping and sliding around in my shoe wasn’t working so I taped it to me ankle with masking tape. At first I would hide the tape and only where boots or shoes with thick ankle straps.

 Offbeat: Too Fit for the Bit
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Laura Hill

But within a week or so, I let me freak-flag-fly and just wore whatever shoe I wanted with the tape around my ankle. This is New York, and it was for my “health” after all, what did I care?!

 Offbeat: Too Fit for the Bit
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Laura Hill

I’m sure you can imagine how things escalated from there. After three weeks of complete immersion in the vortex of my Fitbit– tracking it obsessively on my phone, wearing it all times, moving it from wrist to ankle and back during any given day, lamenting the couple hours it had to sit it in the charger — I hit 25k steps on one not-particularly-active Saturday and I killed it. I received a “Congratulations” email from the good people at Fitbit for my Saturday high score and by 16k in the early afternoon on Easter Sunday, my Fitbit shit the bed.

The last few days I’ve been in recovery. At first I tried charging it with every device, using every charger I have in the house. But I realize now that it is in fact dead. It has been several days now and I am beginning to feel “normal” again.

Final thoughts: the Fitbit, while a lovely idea for the less active among us, is not the best idea for most New Yorkers. All the little things that set us apart, keep us competitive, hungry, and insane are just the kinds of unfair advantages that will take a Fitbit down.

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