And The Award For Today's Stupidest Word Goes To...
(February 11, 2020)
…”biohacking”. Oh god, I HATE the word “biohacking”. Not as much as I hate the word “bicurious", but pretty close.
Buzzwords set my nerves on edge. And I am sure that I am not alone in this. In fact, I would bet my lunch money that pretty much anyone who is not dependent on buzzwords to make a living (meaning politicians and retail outlets) detests them as well. Here is a short list of mine:
boots on the ground
the realm of possibility
bring to the table
Etc. But at the very, VERY top would have to be “biohacking”.
I get it, though. Buzzwords become buzzy in the first place because they are a quick and colorful way of easily conveying an idea. They may end up being overused and misused, but most of the time they drop out of usage quickly enough that they don't stroke anyone out. So no harm done.
But I am somewhat concerned about “biohacking”. I fear that it occupies a special place among buzzwords in that it is all flair with no real meaning, endlessly open to the machinations of the devious to fool the unwary, and thus could be a lot harder to get rid of than your average bit of verbal fluff.
What IS biohacking, anyway? To find out, I checked in with a buzzword expert, Tony Robbins. For you kiddies out there who don't know him, Mr. Robbins is the motivational speaker and New Age expert who has probably destroyed more lives with meaningless concepts than anyone else you can think of. He says, a bit clumsily:
Biohacking is essentially the practice of changing our chemistry and our physiology through science and self-experimentation to energize and enhance the body. It’s a broad definition, but that’s also because the idea of “biohacking” is constantly evolving.
(“Constantly evolving”. That’s what the flu virus does. How do you get rid of something that does that? You see, I was right to worry.)
According to Mr. Robbins, biohacking is “the practice of changing our chemistry and our physiology through science and self-experimentation”. So then, wouldn’t counting calories be biohacking? Phooey. I thought that biohacking was cool and hip. I must be wrong; there is nothing cool or hip about calorie counting. Back to Mr. Robbins:
It can be as daily (daily? jeez, hire a proofreader, Tony) as using wearable technology to help you monitor and regulate physiological data. Or it can be as extreme (yup, he really said "extreme") as using implant technology and genetic engineering.
You have to BUY it for it to be “biohacking”. (Particularly, I suspect, you need to buy it from Mr. Robbins. Otherwise it isn't really, um, daily.) Now I think I'm getting it. Biohacking is NOT when granny starts drinking Metamucil so her morning, er, movement will be easier. But it WOULD be biohacking if she tucked a state-of-the-art colon stimulator on up there for the same purpose.
Anything from wearing a Fitbit to surgically modifying myself with a T-800 Terminator kit from SkyNet, according to Mr. Robbins, makes me a biohacker. How about drinking collagen water to… well, why DO people drink collagen water? I’m pretty sure that they’re biohacking. How is that different from granny’s Metamucil?
Was Richard Simmons biohacking? How about Charles Atlas? Were lobotomies a type of biohacking? Was John Harvey Kellogg a biohacker? Is swallowing tapeworms to lose weight biohacking? Where does it all end?
Here’s what I think. “Biohacking” is just a fancy word the self-improvement community cooked up to sell stuff that you might think twice about buying otherwise. (Or at least you might think twice about paying so much for it.) You can also call the little tweaks you make to your routine to hopefully make yourself healthier "biohacking", but I don't think that that's how it's really supposed to be used. It's a term that's used simply to make you stop thinking just long enough to let someone run your credit card. So my suggestion is that if you hear it, let your ears prick up up and pay more, not less, attention to the next few sentences you hear.
You know who REALLY was a biohacker? Victor Frankenstein. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to, do they.
--dr. diane holmes
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