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I love walking. According to my parents, I began early at 9 months. I love walking in nature best because it’s almost always the most beautiful. But when I travel, I enjoy walking around wherever I am. In fact, when I have time, I often walk in the airport. 

I wrote a blog post about a hike on Mt. Hood. 

Link to: Big Zig Zag Canyon

As you may or may not know, I even wrote a book about how to put more exercise into daily life. I developed a fairly complete upper body work-out to do while you’re walking. 

Link to: Fit in Bits

Aside from playing tennis, walking is my chief form of exercise. Recently, I began monitoring my steps and upped my goal. 

Often, when I play tennis, I come home and ice my left ankle afterwards. If I don’t, it gets stiff & painful when I finally stand up and take a few steps. After walking around for awhile, it feels better. Sometimes, when I’m playing it helps my feet to change shoes after the first set. That’s what I did on Monday, but I had a lot of trouble getting my left shoe on. I had to really push hard to get my shoe on. Finally. I was ready for more tennis. 

Or, not. 

Because something didn’t feel right. I retired and walked home (a short distance). To be more accurate, I limped home until I had to hobble home. I could basically put no weight on my left leg at all. We went to one of those 7 days a week clinic but they were closed. Then, my wife drove me to the UCSD Medical Center. They were awesome. An X-Ray showed that I had no (new!) Ankle break. But apparently, I had broken it at some point in the past. 

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

Anyway, I got some crutches and am following the RICE instructions: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Luckily the US Open is on TV and I’ve already seen a dozen amazing matches! 

I suddenly get an alert on my phone! Oh, who could it be? 

It is from a health app! Maybe it’s checking up on my ankle? 

No. It just wants me to know that it’s thinking of me and it wants to remind me how important it is to walk! What a great exercise it is! 

Isn’t that sweet? Could you imagine visiting a friend who just sprained their ankle and telling them how much fun you had playing tennis or basketball or telling them all the reasons they should walk or that they’re really missing out by not being able to play sports? You don’t say such things! You realize that while, what you’re saying may be true, in the current context, it’s unhelpful and for some, hurtful. 

I had to laugh out loud at the ineptitude of the message about walking. Imagine instead of a hopefully temporary injury, I had just lost a leg due to an accident or from diabetes? Suppose I had lived my life in a wheelchair and I got this message? 

There’s a reason that sane people don’t walk up to strangers and say something with no preamble that presumes some sort of shared context! But marketeers and advertisers do it all the time! The have pop-up ads, “crucial” and “last chance” emails all the time and send it to millions of people. They blast it to you on TV and radio. Because of whatever is going on in someone’s life, these various messages will always be wildly inappropriate for a small percentage (but a large number) of people. 

Even though my mom died more than 20 years ago, I still get many admonitions every year about how she’d really like me to wire her some flowers. 

Mother’s Day

The marketing folks seem to want to have it two ways. On the one hand, they want you to believe that they care about you like a friend might. They care about your family. They keep track of time for you and have helpful reminders about people’s birthdays. They are on your side. But they don’t want to pay for actual sales people to do this. The can’t afford “Personal Shoppers” like Nordstrom’s does. Since everything is just cheaply generated by computer, of course they are often going to be dead wrong in their suggestions, their timing, and their message. 

Guess what? They don’t care. Why? Because when they do something inappropriate, we will say to ourselves, “Well, it’s just an algorithm. Of course, it’ll make mistakes.” WIth everything else going on in the world, it’s small potatoes and not worth caring about. 

When they chance to hit upon showing us something that is actually appropriate and appealing, we’re likely to buy it. 

Meanwhile, I have to wonder what the impact is on our society of emotionally tone deaf and inappropriate messages being spewed out by the billions. Is it possible that part of the reason so many people go crazy in department stores, airports, and even medical facilities insisting on their “rights” to kill other Americans with their germs is that everyone sees inappropriate messages sent by bots? There is no real consequence to the companies who send inappropriate messages and often there is no real consequence to those who scream and threaten violence at school board meetings if their toddlerhood is not automatically catered to. 

Is it possible these pandemics of inappropriateness are related? Is it possible that the toxic rhetoric of a hate-mongerer finds resonance in so many partly because they have been bombarded with so many tone deaf messages? 


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