Quantified Self

Graydon Carter Isn’t Interested in Quantifying Himself, Thanks Very Much

He'll pass, along with "the vast sweep of humanity."
Mr. Carter, stubbornly unquantified. (Photo: flickr.com/shankbone)

Mr. Carter, stubbornly unquantified. (Photo:

Does any corner of New York society remain untouched by the go-go spirit of the raging tech boom? Apparently not.

It seems the culture of optimization has advanced even unto the lofty reaches of Vanity Fair, with this month’s issue containing an exploration of the quantified self by culture critic James Wolcott (not yet available online). And to tee up for his colleague’s column, no less a personality than head honcho Graydon Carter himself opened up the issue with his thoughts on the matter.

His editor’s letter begins, “Not to generalize, but mankind can be divided into three groups.” This’ll be good!

There are those who like to record and share every aspect of their lives no matter how inconsequential. There are those who live lives that are actually worth recording yet don’t. And there are the rest of us, the vast sweep of humanity, who neither record our lives nor live ones particularly worth recording.

We assume Mr. Carter counts himself among the latter group, hence the emphasis. Humility and self-awareness, or good, old-fashioned humblebrag? We wonder. At any rate, Mr. Carter goes on to make his feelings in regards to the matter of quantifying oneself quite clear:

The thing is, all that time you spend logging and then curating the quotidian aspects of your daily life is time taken away from actually doing things. In the Digital Age, recorders also tend to be oversharers, and with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, they can do so on a grand scale.

Cut to the chase, Graydon: Will Fitbits be featured in the gift bags for this year’s Oscar party or not?

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com