Oh for the love of fuck, pass me a paper bag to breathe into will you? See, I’ve had my head betwixt my knees for the last fifteen minutes and I can still feel the oxygen in my lungs being replaced by rage. That’s because I’ve just seen a gadget that makes me wonder whether mankind should have abandoned its pursuit of progress at roughly the same time it stopped wanking at the sun. For this you can thank The Owlet, a ‘smart sock’ worn by infants so that their parents can – take a deep breath, kraken-lovers – monitor the heart rates and oxygen levels of their progeny.
No, I am not shitting you with this. In fact even my fevered imagination would be hard pushed to come up with a gadget that is fuelled solely by panic, milk and parental bewilderment. Here’s why. The Owlet is a sock worn by a baby to collect data about said baby’s vital signs, from the efficiency of its coronary ventricles to whether the little shit rolls over in the one fifteen minute stint that it’s actually asleep. That info is then sent to the parent’s internetty device of choice. It may help to imagine it as an intensive care bed in your arse-pocket.
That’s not all. On The Owlet’s website the gadget introduces itself with the lobe-shattering words ‘Be empowered by seeing your baby’s health at a glance” and “You’re entitled to know if your child’s heart is functioning normally”. Those quotes, though, are literary gold compared to what you are about to read. In a home page section entitled “Here’s why you will be a super mom” – eliminating the role of the father completely – it tells women to buy The Owlet because it reduces their stress, helps save the lives of other babies through the collection of data and that it will help to “impress your paediatrician when you print out weeks’ worth of your child’s health information”. That’s right. Forget exhaustion, dribbling tits, post-natal depression and an exploded clunge. What really bothers new mums is whether their doctor will nod at them approvingly.
Well thanks, Owlet. Thanks a fucking bunch. As if parenting a newborn isn’t sphincter-shattering enough, now you think you are empowering parents by giving them information that is meaningless unless they have a medical degree. How, pray, does being privy to a baby’s heart or oxygen rate “empower” a parent? Fruitlessly dashing to A&E every forty eight hours because your kid’s heart rate blips up when it squeezes out a turd isn’t empowerment, it’s slavery. Yet thanks to The Owlet parents will give up their day jobs to obsessively draw up graphs of oxygen intake because this is, apparently, the epitome of 21st Century fulfilment.
Well The Owlet can shove that right up its beak. That’s because gadgets like this one are nothing but a middle class con, worse they are a con paraded as a valuable addition to child-rearing. You want to know if your baby is breathing properly? Then check it hasn’t turned blue. You want to know if it’s heart is ticking healthily? Then put your hand on its paper-thin chest. You want to know if it’s rolled over? Walk up to its cot and have a fucking look. It’s not hard, although the owlet would like you to think it is because then it gets to sell more of these panic-inducers to unwitting parents.
Although perhaps I should replace the word ‘parents’ for ‘mothers’ because the guys behind The Owlet don’t seem to think that men have any parental responsibility after wiping their post-shag penises on the curtains. In fact, if The Owlet’s blurb is to be believed men are all about the ‘meh’ when it comes to their progeny’s health. Aye, The Owlet guys have clearly done their research and declared that men don’t want to be ‘super dads’ in the same way that women don’t want to stumble through any given day without fretting over whether they can impress their fucking GP. In fact I am staggered that men are allowed to buy The Owlet at all, what with them playing so fast and loose with their infants’ survival rate.
That’s why, had The Owlet been available when six-year old Kraken Junior was a baby, I’d have bought one simply to smear it with meconium before throwing it, like a grenade, into the river. Not even during the times when we did have to dash her to A&E would information about her heart rate, oxygen levels or ability to roll over have made even the teeniest hint of a bloody difference. In fact, had I produced graphs measuring her breathing the mental health team would have been called in to deal with the hysterically obsessed woman in bay 4. “Empowered”? The Owlet should be endangered if you ask me.