Word Watch: Track-a-holism

Athletic people sharing workout data from their smartwatches.

Credit: Viacheslav Iakobchuk/Adobe Stock

Track-a-holism (or trackaholism, whose adherents or victims are known as track-a-holics or trackaholics) is the latest addition to the lexicon noted by Canada’s Word Spy, Paul McFedries.

The term – meaning “a compulsion to monitor one’s health and fitness metrics, particularly those generated by apps and electronic devices – has a fairly recent history, with McFedries noting the earliest usage in 2014.

That’s when it was the subject of a panel discussion at the Digital Health Summit, held in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The session, held on 9 January, was titled “Track-a-holism: A Disorder Worth Having?” and described thusly:

 What do the quantified selfers and the obsessive compulsives have in common? We have learned that diligent tracking produces positive results, yet there are extreme barriers to growing this movement. How can we duplicate the behaviors of the track-a-holic and catapult the digital health industry to new heights?

Most recently, it appeared in a Globe and Mail article by Adriana Barton (“Tracking down the root of our self-tracking obsession,” 27 February 2017): “Digital-health industry leaders such as Daniel Kraft, a Harvard-trained physician and medical-device inventor, predict that in the future, ‘track-a-holism’ will be the norm.”

The only thing that will ever be on my wrist is my old analogue Mickey Mouse watch.~TM

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