Flashback: The Rise and Decline of the Datasexual

I mentioned a few days ago I was going to be taking a bit of a break and reposting things from my archives. Sifting through my old posts, I was intrigued to come across this one I did 6 years ago about the rise of the datasexual. My comments were based on this article called “Meet the Urban Datasexual”., which introduced the term as someone who is “preoccupied with their personal data” and “relentlessly digital, they obsessively record everything about their personal lives, and they think that data is sexy. In fact, the bigger the data, the sexier it becomes. Their lives – from a data perspective, at least – are perfectly groomed.”

With all the recent Facebook/data/etc concerns, I was curious if this term was still a thing. A quick Google suggests it is not. It made it as far as a mention in a TED talk in 2013, but the trail mostly goes cold after that. Google trends confirms that the Big Think article was the height of this term.

It’s interesting to note that this term was introduced at a time when interest in the quantified self movement was gaining steam, with interest in that term peaking about a year later. Since then, things appear to have died down a bit, which is odd considering there’s more ways than ever to track your data.

Part of me wonders if that’s why the interest waned. When you’re logging your own heart rate on a regular basis, you need a community to give you tips about where/when/how to log. Now that my Fitbit logs my heart rate and sleep and all my data can be accessed any time I want, is there really a reason to join a group to get tips on this?  With data and charts more easily available for everything, it seems like we all got a little more data in our lives.

Additionally, it appears the biggest concern now for most of us is not how to get our data, but how to keep it private. With some of the recent data privacy scandals, not as many people are as excited to broadcast their data obsession to everyone else.

Finally, it seems we’ve mostly stopped appending -sexual to things to describe things other than sexuality? I’m not really up on slang, but it seems like after metrosexual, that suffix kinda faded. Someone with teenagers let me know if that’s true.

Anyway, I wasn’t too sad to see that term go, but it is interesting to see what a difference a few years can make in how we view a topic. RIP datasexual.

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