Screw you Instagram. Your years of digital snooping have trained your pernicious algo to know too much about me. My yearnings, my anxities, my guilty pleasures… and my gazingus pins.
Instagram, you’re relentless with your digital onslaught; your perfectly timed sponsored posts seem to land when I hate myself the most (scrolling mindlessly at 11 pm, waaaaay past my bed time).
But you’re onto something. You probably know that I’ve put this item in my shopping cart a few times, but never pulled the trigger. (So you discount it, for me.) You know that some part of this 40 year old body still aches to be a tatted up Crossfitter with throbbing trap muscles whipping through a Battle Rope workout.
Instagram, you also know that I’m no longer really into Crossfit and I’ve moved on to daydreaming about frontside snaps (those quick turns on the lip of the wave) so you too have moved on.
But I’m holding strong. I refuse to buy your $30 a month digital slap bracelet (however, $30 a month for email is a different story).
Instagram, I refuse to buy the WHOOP strap.
I was introduced to Gazingus Pins from Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez’s book Your Money or Your Life the de facto bible of the Financial Independence, Retire Early movement. Gazingus pins can be ice cream, an app, clothes, a Kindle book, a cocktail, and yes, a $30 a month digital bracelet that tells you how hard you worked out (and thus how much you should sleep).
Specifically, gazingus pins represent an impulse arising from our “early programming that discomfort can be alleviated by something external.” And we all have internalized these unconscious habits:
A gazingus pin is any item that you just can’t pass by without buying. Everybody has them. They run the gamut from earbuds and tiny screwdrivers to shoes, pens, and chocolate kisses. So there you are in the mall or online, a shopping robot on your weekly tour of the stations of the crass. You come to the gazingus pin section and your mind starts cranking out gazingus pin thoughts. (…) And before you know it, an alien arm (attached to your body) has reached out and picked up (or clicked on) the gazingus pin, and off you go to the checkout, still functioning like a windup zombie.
The Gazingus Pin Graveyard
I’ve got an expansive portfolio of gazingus pins. Ipads that promised a more productive life, but now merely serve as overpriced viewing terminals for Peppa the Pig.
Notebooks and pens that promised creative explosions. They delivered three pages worth of brilliance, but now are an expensive place to play hangman.
And don’t get me started on the piles of squash rackets, rock climbing gear, and road bike that sit idly in our garage. Too expensive to throw away, their heavy presence a daily reminder of “What was I thinking?”
This, writes Robin, is the key trait of gazingus pins:
You arrive home with your purchase (or it arrives on your doorstep), you put it in the gazingus pin drawer (where there are already five or ten others), and you forget about gazingus pins until your next shopping trip, at which point you come to the gazingus pin section and…
Here’s why I just can’t quit the WHOOP strap. I’m a sucker for the parsimonious promise of be more fit and sleep better. Why surely this must be worth $30 a month. But having gone through two Apple Watches, I know it’s destined to end up in the gazingus graveyard.
What version of yourself are you buying?
Marketers have mastered the craft of selling us better versions of ourselves. In the aptly titled This is Marketing, Seth Godin challenges the common trope us that you don’t buy a 1/4 inch drill bit, you buy the hole in the wall. But for Godin, that doesn’t go far enough:
No one wants a hole. What people want is the shelf that will go on the wall once they drill the hole. Actually, what they want is how they’ll feel once they see how uncluttered everything is, when they put their stuff on the shelf that went on the wall, now that there’s a quarter-inch hole.
Yes, we want a bookshelf and de-cluttered apartment, right? Nope, there’s more:
They also want the satisfaction of knowing they did it themselves. Or perhaps the increase in status they’ll get when their spouse admires the work. Or the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the bedroom isn’t a mess, and that it feels safe and clean.
Godin concludes that “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want to feel safe and respected.”
Yikes. So let’s run through Godin’s reasoning for my WHOOP band.
Saying I want to be more fit and sleep better doesn’t paint the entire picture. Let’s take sleep. I don’t need a $30/month band to tell me that three simple conditions ALWAYS result in better sleep:
- Turning off my phone 90 minutes before bed
- Stretching 5 minutes with a foam roller
- Not drinking two giant skinny margaritas
So what’s the promise of the WHOOP? Can it dissolve the recurring anxiety that greets me each night: Shit, I didn’t do enough work. I’m nowhere close to inbox zero. My kids are annoying me because they want my attention (but I’m not at Inbox Zero so can’t relax). Can I really cut it as an entrepreneur?
This leads to the drinks. The half-assed bedtime routine. Using my phone way past the self-imposed cut-off time. And the shitty night of sleep.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I don’t know how to make these feelings go away. But I do know for damn sure that it won’t be with the WHOOP. It won’t be yet another damn gazingus pin.
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