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Are you a datasexual?

Posting in Technology

The same cultural zeitgeist that gave us the metrosexual -- the urban male obsessive about grooming and personal appearance -- has also created its digital equivalent. Meet the datasexual.

Unlike metrosexual or the terms it helped generate (retrosexual, ecosexual, technosexual), this is not about aesthetics really. The datasexual can look like you or me or my editor. What’s distinct is their (or maybe our, no judgment) preoccupation with personal data.

They are obsessive self-trackers, IEEE Spectrum explains, not just to enhance self-knowledge but also to embellish self-presentation, especially on social networks.

Big Think offered this description last year:

They are relentlessly digital, they obsessively record everything about their personal lives, and they think that data is sexy. In fact, the bigger the data, the sexier it becomes. Their lives -- from a data perspective, at least -- are perfectly groomed.

After all, we’re all creating an exhausting amount of personal data online, and device makers keep churning out ways to display them. So, how to tell:

  • The datasexual spends a good part of the day sending out narbs (narrative bits): any item of personal information posted online, particularly as it contributes to a personal narrative they’re creating online.
  • The difference between quantified self (QS) proponents and datasexuals is the latter’s emphasis on public self-embellishment and conspicuous oversharing.
  • A QSer believes in “self knowledge through numbers” and might use a pedometer to track the number of steps taken each day. A datasexual will wear a Nike+ FuelBand on his wrist to display the number of steps he takes each day, and he’ll post that number to his online friends.
  • The datasexual is almost always into success theater: the posting of images and stats designed to make others believe he is more successful than he really is.
  • Good data hygiene includes: a flattering selfie with or without a celebrity, a humblebrag, and vanity metrics (My resting heart rate is 55! Just passed the 10,000-follower mark on Twitter!).

[Big Think via IEEE Spectrum]

Image: David Bleasdale via Flickr

— By on September 25, 2013, 6:19 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure