Orwell described it a bit differently. There were large television sets in every household that doubled as security devices. Every word and movement were registered by the entertaining tool. Reality got a little further; the television sets are actually technologically advanced timepieces. And now Apple is promoting employee health monitoring with $25 watches.
Digital trinkets like the Apple watch or the Fitbit bracelet have flooded the market lately. People are ecstatic at the idea that they can check their pulse, blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs though highly fashionable technologies.
Even companies are now using the new Apple watch or Fitbit bracelet to monitor the health status of their employees. And they are doing so mainly because they were able to buy the devices at small prices. The cost of such a trinket is covered by the extra health insurance payments that the company will no longer pay once the employees start living a healthier life.
The Vitality Group is offering to the interested companies an offer that they just can’t refuse. Instead of the traditional $350, they are able to pay $25 for an Apple watch that can monitor the health of the wearer. But there is some fine print in the contract as well.
If the employee that receives the impressive device does not meet the fitness and health indicators, or if he or she doesn’t achieve the activity goals that are set monthly, then, at the end of two years, the company will have to pay the full $350 price for the discounted watch.
One would say that the situation is sort of a win-win. But it doesn’t feel like it. Of course, there is nothing wrong with companies wanting to keep their employees healthy. And the marketing techniques are spectacular in Apple’s and Fitbit’s cases.
But one has to stop and wonder, how much free will do the employee has left once the company that he, or she, is working for starts monitoring their activities. Of course, the employers are only trying to make sure that the people whose health insurance they are covering are well, and stay that way.
And it’s a thoughtful gesture, ignoring the fact that they are only doing it to save money. But how much free will is left in those employees? They are doing as told at work, and in their own time, they must achieve activity goals set by other companies who just want to sell their technologies.
It’s far worse than Orwell imagined it; it’s actually very Huxley. The people are convinced that the companies are doing them a favor by providing cheap, healthy trinkets. Apple is promoting employee health monitoring with $25 watches, and those employees are thrilled.
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