The transparent body refers to the body measured, gauged, quantified in all its aspects and functions. An active body is located in a given environment in a given metabolic condition. The activity of the body is its history of activity: employment, travel, leisure, sleep, eating practices, exercise. The body’s location refers to its socioeconomic environment: living environment, income level, education level. The metabolic state of the body refers to the set of chemical reactions that take place within the body to keep it alive: these chemical reactions are not only measurable, but also allow us to identify the organs likely to modify the optimal chemical balance of the body. In short, the transparent body is the body that digital technologies must have.
Environmentalism, self-empowerment, flexibility and performance
Although the Google Watch is the latest connected watch to hit the market, it not only embeds the same technologies as all other connected watches, but at the same time takes a step forward by embracing the social values of our time. In this era of connectivity where technology subsumes social, where technology becomes nothing less than a social engineering platform, this new watch acts on our social inscription.
Environmentalism, in the sense that Google announces from the outset that the case is made from recycled steel, that the battery life is extended because the process of tracking the heart rate has been modified so that it relies solely on the co-processor of the chip, which consumes much less of the battery charge than the main processor.
Self-empowerment, in the sense that giving the individual the possibility to monitor his own metabolic and physiological condition, is also making him more and more autonomous with respect to himself. In fact, since 1985, the tendency is to an increase in the autonomization of the individual, that is to say, the increase in the burden of individual capacities to face the hold of the market mechanisms on the whole of life has gradually led the individual to become more and more autonomous, making him libertarian in spite of himself.
Self-construction, in the sense that in a society abandoned to the predation of capital, finance, the economy and the market order, where the precariousness of work is becoming more and more an inevitable condition, becoming the architect of one’s life, master of one’s destiny and entrepreneur of one’s self is necessarily an imperative.
Performance, in the sense that the individual who has the ability to improve his own physical condition by monitoring it with a simple watch attached to his arm becomes an individual who is able to perform better not only physically, but also intellectually.
Flexibility, in the sense that the globalization of capitalism, in its just-in-time logic, has demanded increasingly flexible individuals able to adapt to increasingly staggered working hours, individuals who are increasingly enmeshed in the thousands of invisible threads of communication that constantly link them to work. The individual, tied to these thousands of invisible threads that constantly bind him to some task, erase any break between work and leisure, fight against dead time, vacuity and idleness, force him to be constantly on the job, to make sure of a continuous and unremitting activity.
Connected watch, in the sense that the latter is the price to pay to be constantly connected not only to work, leisure, culture and economy, but also to be connected to his body to make it dictable and transparent, this body obliged by digital technologies.
© Pierre Fraser (PhD), sociologist, 2022