Mini cupcakes? Really, Google Maps? (Guest Post)

by Megan Dean

No, Google Maps, I do not want to know that my walk to the post office will burn off a “mini cupcake” worth of calories. This is not useful or motivational or even innocuous information. In fact, it kinda ruined my afternoon.

I have put a lot of effort into keeping “calories” out of my life. I don’t read fitness magazines, I actively ignore the screen on the elliptical machine, I avert my eyes from nutrient breakdowns on prepared foods and recipes, and avoid diet conversations like the plague.

I never expected Google Maps to invade my carefully cultivated calorie-free mental space with unsolicited information about my afternoon stroll, accompanied by a stupid little emoji.

In any case, I KNOW how many calories a 20 minute walk burns. It is etched into my mind and taking up space there permanently, as is the number of calories in an apple, a slice of angel food cake, an egg, a cup of vegetable soup.

I know this because I have spent hours of my life calculating how many calories I ate in a day and how many I burnt off. It has take me years of work, thousands of dollars of therapy, and a good number of self-help books (shout out to Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy!) to stop quantifying all my daily activities in calorie form.

Reducing everything to calories might be helpful for some people but for me it’s soul-crushing, pleasure-destroying, time-wasting bs. It flattens out my life, and makes me feel I need to earn the right to eat.

No thank you. Cupcakes can be delicious, walks can be pleasant, these things shouldn’t be interchangeable, exchangeable, or commensurable.

So, shove it Google Maps. I’d rather ask for directions, and I’m an introvert.

Megan Dean is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Georgetown University, and a pre-doctoral fellow with the Mellon Sawyer seminar “Approaching the Anthropocene: Global Culture and Planetary Change.” She really likes eating and considers that an achievement.

14 thoughts on “Mini cupcakes? Really, Google Maps? (Guest Post)

  1. Smart! Doesn’t everyone (including app designers at Google) know that counting calories is not, and has never been effective in losing weight or maintaining a healthy life style? It’s not how much, it is what and how we eat.
    And besides, saying you’ve burned a cupcake worth of calories somehow encourages the idea of eating a cupcake. It crosses your mind and you crave it. And because you “burned the calories”, it feels okay to eat it. Very misleading.

    1. Also …” ‘almost’ a ‘mini’ cupcake” is an especially condescending, minimizing, gendered piece of bullshit.

  2. I’m with you. I hate being blindsided by there’s “cute” attempts at motivation.
    They throw off my balance. Like when the yoga instructor talks about weight loss…just no.

    1. Totally! Once I had a yoga instructor start going on about her “arm jiggles” during class and I nearly threw my mat at her.

  3. I’m gasping. My phone is not allowed to tell me how much food I’ve earned. Privilege culture curses. Sigh.

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