The Wonder of Moi

Socrates famously observed that, ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’.  (That’s the sum total of my Socratic knowledge, but it’s left me feeling pretty smug, let me tell you). Yet perhaps the over-examined life is just as useless. More specifically, I wonder if the process of ‘life-tracking’, can actually replace the business of living.

What do I mean? Well, I’m not saying that self-analysis is bad in itself.  (For starters, if that’s the case then I’ve just talked myself out of a blog). But we can become so obsessed with ourselves, that we lose sight of the bigger picture.  Or unable to function or live, for fear of taking a wrong step.

One example of this is the proliferation of applications, sites and gadgets, designed to help you track and log your life.  ‘The Quantified Self’ is a website that allows you to share the minutiae of daily existence with millions of others – from what time you go to bed, to whether you prefer shredded or shredless marmalade.  (Shredded, since you ask).

At or Datablogger, you can upload what you ate for breakfast, your bowel movements or the streets that you pass on the way to work. To ensure your readers (aka ‘Mum’), get every detail, these can then be graphed in glorious technicolour.  Waterworks will measure your daily fluid intake and on Dailymugshot you can share what you’re wearing each day.  Then of course, there’s Tweet What You Eat or

Not one wondrous skerrick of the complicated splendour that is you, need ever be missed again. But what do you do with such self-knowledge?  Is it really the gateway to personal fulfilment? Or instead a slavery to self?

4 thoughts on “The Wonder of Moi

  1. Reminds me of:

    “The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the life too closely examined may not be lived at all.” (Mark Twain)


    “for every look at yourself take a hundred looks at Christ” (or something like that, Spurgeon)

    and for that matter Phil 4:8, and Luther and Augustine’s definitions of sin (both quite into self-examination interestingly).

  2. Thanks Dave- these are really helpful.

    ‘Man curved in on himself’ is a great definition of sin. Yet as you say, both Luther and Augustine were into self-examination. The temptation is to lose ourselves in ourselves or to go to the opposite extreme and refuse to engage at all. Instead we want to look to Christ, and in Him to see ourselves rightly. So easy to say..!

    “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” …

    “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.” II Corinthians 10:12, 18

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