As if the calorie–counting frenzy that's been around in every Starbucks, Chipotle, and Le Pain de Quoutiden for years hasn't been enough to make us feel guilty about our (often perfectly normal) eating and drinking choices, Google Maps is the newest addition to join the team of often eating disorder–triggering, strategies diguised as strategies to make us lead "healthy lifestyles."
In the past days, the tech–giant rolled out a feature for its Google Maps app, which would count the calories you burn by walking to places instead of going by car or another form of transporation. In itself, this might not seem like a groundbreaking or especially triggering tool, but it had two features which made it stand apart from other apps who have had similar features for a long itme. First of all, Google Maps calorie counter didn't just count the calories as a plain number for you to see, it measured them in edible units, more specifically so: mini cupcakes. One mini cupcake equals 110 calories, according to Google's stats, and depending on how far you walked, it would tell you just how many of those cupcakes you would burn. There was also no way to turn off the feauture, in case you didn't want to know how many mini cupcakes every step would burn.
The new feature caused a lot of strong reactions on social media, mainly from women and girls who felt that this feature would trigger those who were struggling with, or had been struggling with, eating disorders. Because let's not forget that around 30 million Americans are currently suffering from an eating disorder. Furthermore, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness (on average, one person dies every hour from an eating disorder in the United States). Triggering eating disordered behavior is not something any company should strive for, especially not a company like Google, which interacts with our lives everyday on multiple platforms.
Following the many and upset reactions, Google Maps quickly rolled back the feature, with a Google Spokesperson telling TechCrunch that the decision to withdraw it was "based on strong user feedback" – which was probably a good move. For the company, and for the state of all of our general well being.
Top photo screenshot from Google Maps/YouTube
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Amanda Brohman is a 23-year old editorial intern at BUST, a freelance writer, blogger and fashion journalism student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She loves everything that glitters, taking long walks in and around her SoHo neighborhood, and drinking Chardonnay on her fire escape at midnight whilst listening to Halsey.