Today’s Guardian Weekend Magazine is themed around the human body, asking “how we control, improve and future-proof what nature gave us. Now, I have to confess to being a bit of a fitness freak myself. I think I always have been: running to and from school as a teenager, cycling up a long, slow hill to work in my early twenties, following Jane Fonda work-out regimes and going to aerobics classes in my thirties and forties and getting into running in my sixties. But some of the people they write about in the magazine are total nutters.
There’s a Silicon Valley millionaire entrepreneur who has his health checked every three months on the grounds that when you actually notice the signs and symptoms of degenerative diseases it’s already too late. He wears special hearing aids to enhance his perfect hearing, he wears specially tinted glasses in the evening to counteract the effects of blue light and he takes 60 pills a day. These include all sorts of stuff he does not currently need but which enhances his performance.
Surely he spends so much time checking his health and preventing ageing that he is not actually getting much out of life. He’s 32 and plans to live forever! But I do wonder about the quality of that eternal life.
Other people are on the way to becoming bionic. One has special sensors on her feet so that so that she can detect seismic activity. Was the decision to do this prompted by a deep-seated fear of earthquakes? Another has an antenna implanted in his skull so that he “hears” colour waves. This makes him see colours more intensely! It sounds to me like artificially induced synesthesia! Yet another has extra senses in his ears so that he can detect atmospheric pressure and work out what the weather is going to be like.
I just use the app on my phone.
Apparently tens of thousands of people have a chip implanted under the skin. Quite why they do so is not clear. Presumably it registers performance (my Fitbit does that) as some companies encourage their workers to get chipped, “so bosses can better track workflow”. That sounds ominous! And a German company which makes prosthetic limbs for medical use - surely what all this technology should be doing - is now making exoskeletons for VW workers to enhance their performance in the factory!!!
This is all beginning to sound rather like science fiction, especially the kind of disturbing stories that you see on the TV series Black Mirror.
Of course, to have implants and sensors and antennae and other weird body-enhancing stuff you need to have a fair bit of money. Will we end up with the rich people living forever while the poor folk grub around in the dirt not being able to afford even basic medical help? Or am I just too pessimistic?
Meanwhile, in another aspect of artificial body-enhancement I found this, written by someone called Funmi Fetto:-
“Sacrilege for a beauty editor to admit, but weeks into September and I’m finding applying makeup tiresome. I spent a good proportion of summer without makeup, because a full face in 35C can never end well. They say it takes 28 days to form a habit; try three months. I became so minimalist that looking at my bulging makeup bag this month made me want to take to my bed.
But after a season of festivals and late nights where we all deluded ourselves that we were much younger and hipper than we are IRL, it’s time to go back to being a grownup.”
Oh dear! I guess I never made it into being a grownup. Even when I worked full time I did not paint my face every day. Teachers clearly don’t have as much face-painting time as beauty editors! And it took me a moment or two to realise that IRL = in real life!!
She went on to suggest a gentle re-entry into what she calls “a more polished look”. It seems that “a bright lipstick is the perfect transitioning product”. For this she recommended a number of “bright lipsticks” with prices ranging from £19 to £35!
The world is crazy! I shall keep to my habits of checking my Fitbit from time to time and using the occasional smudge of eyeshadow when I go somewhere special.