“The Perfected Self” by David H. Freeman

This Atlantic article about B.F. Skinner delves into how behavioral changes are possible by measuring progress, keeping records with phone apps, and broadcasting your progress to those whose opinion you care about.

Two things:

One: You can see how shame can be productive towards modifying behavior and achieving your goals—if you’re trying to lose weight and some automated, spambotty thing will tell all your Facebook and Twitter friends you just had a bag of Doritos after eating a bag of Doritos, you might not be so inclined to eat a bag of Doritos.

Two: There’s an argument made that modifying your behavior in this way removes free will. But I think there’s an argument that can be made about how having free will is about deciding what YOU want. YOU are the one who decided you don’t want to be fat anymore, so you start using Loseit to apply some external pressure for you to reach that goal. YOU are the one who wants to read more, so you’re the one entering yourself into the Goodreads reading challenge. “Free will” is what made you hate yourself to begin with.

Besides, what’s really “free will?” Is it the dopamine being released into your body when you eat a bag of Doritos that convinces you that you should eat more Doritos, even though you already know this is a bad idea? Or is it you finally doing something about your size and health by setting up a system that will work towards you completing that goal?

On the other hand, social readers publishing that so and so has just read some article about Snooki hasn’t appeared to stop those articles from being read, despite its criticisms