Benjamin Franklin was very interested in monitoring his daily movements and activities. His goal was to progress in the development of 13 virtues including frugality, silence, and moderation. In an article for Vanity Fair, James Wolcott dubs him "the founding father of self-help" and the pioneer of "self-tracking." Today, many young men and women are keeping tabs on their activities through a variety of digital devices.
There is Fitbit Ultra activity tracker that records the amount of steps you take, stairs that you climb, and calories that you burn. A device called emWave2 is a pocket-size Personal Stress remover that measures heart-rate variability and doubles as a biofeedback meditation assistant. Ready to hit the market are small cameras that take in the details of your activities while walking down the street or sitting in a café watching people.
Wolcott sees self-tracking as growing out of the confluence of "microchips medical advances, social media, geek fashion, affinity branding, and the hardy American tradition of personal development." He also sums it up as part of a new interest in "the Quantified Self movement" whose motto is "Self-knowledge through Numbers." Individuals using these digital devices can now get-together with others and share what they have learned.
We can see in this phenomenon some fresh pathways for the spiritual practices of nurturing, you, and attention. Although many will scoff at the data-driven life as just another example of narcissism, we can affirm the nurturing process that accompanies focusing our attention on the body and mind as the temple of God.