Huffines Institute Director's Blog

Rapidly speeding toward the "weeble-human" future

Rapidly speeding toward the "weeble-human" future

Science fiction is a great way to stretch and exercise your imagination, especially when it is in areas that you know something about.  For all you football fans out there, you should check out the Galactic Football League series by Scott Sigler as a great example of how science fiction can make you think about what you already know in different ways.  For me, a particularly pertinent example of this 'reexamining what we know' came with the movie "Wall-E".

Probably most of you remember that Wall-E was a 2008 movie set in the distant future and was about a small, trash-cleaning robot left behind on Earth to help clean up after humans had polluted Earth.  But what really stretched my imagination back to our current time - kinda' like a rubber band being snapped - was when Wall-E actually found some of the humans that had left Earth.  These humans had been living aboard great starships for 700 years where their every need was catered to.  Each human had their own little chair, were able to watch whatever video they wanted, and had an endless supply of food and beverages - most were shown with some variant of a large soda.  Even the local starship media showed them what color and style of clothing to wear.  But did you catch the size of the humans on board?  Everyone of these humans, even though they were living in the lap of luxury and had no concerns or wants, were all extremely overweight.  They looked almost more like Weebles than humans!  As a matter of fact, the climax of the movie came when the Captain of the ship struggled to get up off of his couch and walk across the bridge to punch a button.  When he did this, everyone in the theatre I was in, cheered!  Wow...has our physical activity bar been set so low that it is heroic to get up off the couch, walk across the room, and punch a button?  Or is this really where we are headed as humans; towards a glorius and fun-filled Weeble-shaped future?

I'm often reminded by Wall-E and the morphologically huge humans when I look at our current culture (or take a trip to the local mall).  Healthy food is expensive and nutrionally-sparse food - including sodas - are readily available and cheap.  Our society is in the process of successfully engineering effort and physical activity out of our daily lives - when was the last time you chose to walk up and actually open a door at your local store as opposed to waiting for the door to open itself?  We are becoming more and more entranced by video, media, and other sources of online interaction - recent data suggests that children are now watching between 5-9 hours of video/television daily.  At that rate, by the time they are 65, they will have spent over 10 years of their lives watching television!  We are rapidly heading toward a future where we drug the activity out of our children or plop them in front of a video to calm them down.  And it is already starting: the best activity data currently available suggests that less than 5% of adults over the age of 20 actually do 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity per day.  So, are we speeding to a future where we all look like the hapless Weeble-humans of Wall-E?  Of will we all die of hypokinetic diseases - those diseases caused by lack of activity, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke, and/or cancers - before we get to that great future?  How much fun will that future be if all we can do is spectate and not even be able to stand and punch a button to deactivate the computers?  (Besides who are going to play the games we watch if we are all weeble-humans?)

The key to avoiding this weeble-future is to be active.  Is activity hard?  Yes - sometimes...and it's just not the activity itself that is hard.  Finding and making time in your day to be active is often the most difficult part of any effort to be active.  I find myself many days justifing putting off exercise because "I can do one more thing on the computer".  We have to all step back, take a deep breath, and ask ourselves "what do we want to be"?  Do we want to be the weeble-human requiring a heroic effort to get off the couch to turn off the TV or do we want to be the human that is trim and healthy, without the chronic diseases and condtions that are the fate of the weeble-humans of Wall-E?

It is our choice - and there is probably no more important choice that you can make.  So I continue to encourage you, "Be Active and Be Well".  It really is that simple.



Post a Comment