When I got my iPhone, one of the first apps I installed was Mappiness. There was a bit of buzz about it in the office at the time. I was intrigued by the idea - to map your happiness over time - and also into supporting the research by LSE. It all seemed so easy. Mappiness pinged me twice a day between 8am and 10pm and I dutifully answered the 6 questions on my level of happiness, location, activity and company.
For a while, Mappiness and I were the best of friends. It would ping and I would jump to it's tune. At work, down the pub, on my bike, I was hooked. Just the novelty of filling it out and seeing my stats served to perk me up, no doubt skewing the data.
But then the love affair began to fizzle, the honeymoon period was over. It would ping and I would greet it with a sigh. I began to ignore it more, or only respond when I was a bit bored. My response rate just before lunchtime on a weekday sky-rocketed.
Recently, we've reached an all time low. Despite downgrading our interaction to once a day, I can hardly ever bring myself to answer when Mappiness calls. I feel suffused with guilt whenever I see that blue notification message hanging on my screen. The fact is that the very act of filling it out depresses me entirely. I'm now skewing the data the other way, so I suppose overall it might at least be accurate. I've also become petty, I find fault with it any opportunity. It annoys me that it might catch me on a rare happy occasion but doesn't record the real reason I'm happy - not because I'm on a bus you doofus but because I very nearly missed it. And yes, of course I'm happiest when I'm outside, drinking alcohol on a Friday afternoon. Mappiness, it turns out, just doesn't understand me.
But I shouldn't be mean. It's not just Mappiness that produces this adverse reaction in me, I've just noticed it more in an app that aims specifically to chart my happiness levels. In actual fact, it seems to be part of a wider phenomenon which a fellow one of the Many, Conor, has dubbed 'application obligation'. That unpleasant twinge that wriggles down your spine whenever you see those 1724 unread posts in your RSS reader or count the weeks since your last tweet. And don't even contemplate opening the empty productivity app, downloaded in heady early January on a wave of eager activity. Tiny reminders of defeat, each and every one, which somehow add up to indicate that you have categorically failed to achieve anything with your life.
Sherry Turkle has recently written a book, Alone Together, which chronicles how social technology is damaging our ability to maintain relationships in meatspace. We spend hours glued to our iPhones frantically tweeting, emailing and facebooking as a way of confirming our existence, to the detriment of our interactions with the people around us. I seem to have the opposing malaise - I'm just not ready for the level of commitment the apps on my iPhone require. Despite being designed to make my life better, easier, faster, frankly, they are just too demanding.
Which all in all, is a roundabout way of saying, it's time to dial Mappiness down to zero. Instead I might, you know, get out more, go for walks, maybe take some pictures. Hey, have you heard there's this really great new Instagram app that makes sharing photos really easy and fun? No pressure.
So what do you think? Is this a genuine 21st century problem or just another #middleclassnightmare?