The Debate Is On

When weekend warriors start reaching their own limits inspired by the data they produce and competing against close and not-so-close friends, things are bound to happen. Like any other game-changing innovation, this one has its critics and pitfalls. Chief among these is, indeed, the charge of gamification: Strava-besotted cyclists engage in personal time trials whenever they mount their bikes. And with so many users familiar with the locations of popular segments, formerly civil training rides now explode at predictable—if intangible—points. Strava has enabled mountain and road bikers to easily discover and publicize illegal trails and routes, leading to accusations that hikers, equestrians and pedestrians are being endangered by gonzo downhillers in pursuit of records. This pursuit has led to deaths as racers push themselves to—and past—the limits of common sense. But is this enough to label social fitness apps as responsible for the recklessness of their users?