by MATT SMITH, Contributor
And you are a gossiping, wage-slaving Peter Gibbons trying to figure out how to get out of working on a Sunday.
You’re gossiping like crazy. You’re talking shit. You’re looking at those numbers, the numbers of the defenseless, the numbers of those who have been there hours before and long since left for the day.
“225# C&J? No way.”
“5:43?? More like 8:43!”
“Since when does s/he squat that much?”
Everyone is susceptible and no one is above it. Questioning, analysis and fundamental math skills are functions of living. We live to question, to view, to analyze, to add, and to subtract.
Humans are also giant shitheads (some of the time) who live and breathe and die by the sword of gossip. That is to say, we talk too much about each other: the good, the bad, the ugly, the unmentionable. It’s a process of reassurance and ego-building. Talking about others reaffirms ourselves, our choices, our actions, and our beliefs. It’s the “ugly duckling” of around the waist bird floaties designed to keep us above water. Without it, many of us would drown.
The Pressure That Is the Whiteboard
It should come as no surprise that some of us will slip-up, falter, or tremble under the pressure that is the whiteboard. The ritualistic process is simple: remember scores, write scores.
Working with students who have special needs, I have seen situations in which the process of writing down scores — particularly low scores — causes undue stress and discomfort. In order to quell this uncertainty and most importantly — vulnerability — people can (and will) do whatever it takes to snuff out that terrible, awkward, sinking feeling.
We are pride-driven beings. We use Instagram! We like to and want to (need to?) take pictures of ourselves lifting a weight for the first time, of the beer we drink, of the food we just made, of the sunset that we (and everyone else) just saw outside.
We brag about our personal records. We’re taught and trained and told to focus on these abstract, yet tangible, concepts of achievement and success. These are not necessarily bad things and I, for the record, can’t wait to get my iPhone 5 fully-loaded with Instagram because, dude, people need to see what Palos Verdes looks like at sunset.
Does it really matter how much weight was on that bar? Does it matter where I finished in my last race? Do these things define me as a human?
For some of us it does, which brings us back to the whiteboard. For you runners and cyclists, think Strava.
The whiteboard, by definition, starts blank. It brings us all together on a clear and even slate to post achievement. Your result, your achievement, is on display to the entire world (what? you don’t think of your gym as the center of the universe?), and there’s nowhere you can hide…
…lest, you fudge.