Paranoia and Peloton

Ed Zitron 3 min read
Paranoia and Peloton

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Peloton Can’t See You

The moment I saw this tweet I knew I’d get sent it 40 times, and I did, because people love to torment me. Nicole Cliffe said this, and then a bunch of reply guys said “bahhh, of course it looks at you while you’re working out!” despite the fact that to do so makes absolutely no sense. Why?

  • Peloton is a big android tablet attached to a bike.
  • There are minimum 300 people in a class. How exactly is the Peloton instructor seeing all of them? Does the instructor have 300 to 3000 screens? Is there a team that looks at this?

Furthermore, the instructor can only see your leaderboard name and you cannot actually video chat (using the camera that’s in the Peloton tablet) unless you’re friends, and you both accept the chat.

Anyway, Cliffe posted seven minutes later that of course she knew that, which makes perfect sense, because she absolutely wrote her original tweet in such a way as to be read as a joke versus a needlessly paranoid way to go viral.

“We just went through this with Facebook”? Facebook sharing information? Facebook…seeing you through their camera? Are you talking about Facebook Portal? I don’t think that thing spies on you through the camera, but I guess you could worry yourself about it being able to. Perhaps it’s about Alexa workers hearing what you say?

I don’t know. It’s all so exhausting. There are plenty of reasons to hate Peloton - they raised their prices to make more money (which in turn increased sales because people valued the bike more, for whatever reason), that very effective fitness products are gating people who don’t make enough money from being healthy, that the soundtracks from some of the instructors are truly awful, that the woo woo spin-cycling community is kind of weird, and so on.

What annoys me is Sarah Jeong - who’s a very good writer and very well-read!  - just posting completely dumb shit like this.

Verifiably incorrect, paranoia-inducing nonsense. I don’t care about Peloton making money, they’re good, they make a bazillion dollars off of people paying $39 a month for a service and $2000 for a bike, they’re not gonna lose sleep over a tweet. But for me it’s frustrating because now I have people texting me asking if the instructor can see my huffing and puffing live on air, and there’s probably one person who’d really enjoy Peloton who now won’t because they’re afraid that’d happen.

I think they’re an easy target as an opulent exercise-tech company, so there’s no reason to feel sorry for them. Peloton is an expensive piece of home gym equipment with a screen attached that requires a subscription, and thus is inherently going to get lumped in with the elephant graveyards of unused recumbent bikes and bowflex gyms.  Thus the natural reaction is that it’s stupid, because it’s expensive and you won’t use it enough, or it’s a cult, because lots of people like it, and they’re whiny assholes like me.

And I swear to god, if one of you sends me that damn 30-tweet-long thread of the person making jokes about where their Peloton is, and how it’s in their weird raised wooden bedroom or something, I will lose my temper.


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