For Christmas this year I got a toothbrush.

Big deal! I hear you cry.

But this is no ordinary toothbrush.

Yes, that’s right. This is the Smart 6 6000N CrossActionwith Smart Ring (and don’t worry – I’ve owned it for a month and still don’t know what any of that means).

But that’s not what makes it special.


This toothbrush comes with an App!


My toothbrush can now tell my phone that I’ve brushed my teeth and my phone can remember when and for how long.

And now all that remains is for me to work out why on God’s clean earth I might want a toothbrush that grasses me up to my phone if I miss a brush.

I don’t want that kind of hassle.

If I missed a brush my phone would instantly turn into Meg Ryan’s sassy and protective best friend in a 90s rom-com. I’d switch it on and it would take me to one side, look at me accusingly and ask through gritted teeth where I was last night when I should have been brushing my teeth, and telling me that my toothbrush is too good for me. And don’t even get started on when, for old times sake, I brush my teeth on my old, down-to-earth manual toothbrush just because it’s comfortable, familiar and makes me feel zingier and frothier.

And even when I do brush my teeth right, why would I possibly need this kind of information?

Because I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Do you know how many times I brushed my teeth yesterday?


And the day before that?


And (with the exception of the occasional cub camp or medical on-call) EVERY DAY SINCE I WAS ABOUT SIX?


And what do they expect me to do with this graph once I’ve generated it? Should I show it to my wife expecting congratulations? Print it out and post it home so my mum can stick it up on the fridge?

My name is Rick. I am 45 years of age. I have brushed my teeth twice a day and I demand a medal!

I mean, I already struggle with one dentist paradox. My dental insurance costs me about 60p a day, or roughly the price of a mars bar. The fact that I am spending my 60p a day on my dentist rather than sugary snacks means I don’t require the services of my dentist so often. But if I instead spent my 60p on the mars bar then I would suddenly find myself needing the dental insurance I no longer had because I’d spent all my money on sweets.

But it’s not just tooth brushing.

My life is ruled* (*ruined) by Apps.

I get stressed by my relaxation app. It keeps a register of how often I log in. It then reminds me if I miss a session but more like my school housemaster – “I’m not cross. Just disappointed.” If I wanted criticism and neediness I’d spend time alone in a darkened room with my own personality. I don’t need a meditation app to do that for me.

The Nectar and Tesco apps squabble and scrap between themselves, kicking off for more attention, which is why I end up using the Lidl app more.

And don’t get me started on having to arbitrate the arguments between Microsoft Teams and Zoom. I’ve had to put them on separate screens or they fight.

And I never even knew I needed all these measurements and figures. Previously I just went to work, or brushed my teeth, or went to the supermarket or wept myself to sleep like any normal person, without the slightest need for an App telling me how well I was doing.

But it’s not just me.

We all do it.

If I come up to bed to find Mrs Brown striding determinedly round the bedroom in her pyjamas you can safely assume she got upstairs to find she was on 9,994 steps on her pedometer.

So perhaps it’s a good thing. Motivating us to complete targets. A virtual high five from a personal trainer for such a sparkling set of molars.

Or maybe not. More a set of addictive behaviours; a substitute for real validation or connection, conceived as a cynical marketing tactic to ensure I keep logging in, paying my subscriptions and viewing my advertisements.

I’m beginning to think it’s the latter.

Which is why I’m planning on deleting the app from my phone.

Just as soon as I’ve brushed my teeth.

One thought on “…Apps

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: