Would someone put Strava out of my misery?

January 27, 2023 Comments Off on Would someone put Strava out of my misery?

I read that Strava hiked their prices and people got angry. Who wants to pay more for nothing? Turns out, millions do.

If you’re wondering what Strava does that your phone doesn’t, I can help you. But first, what does your phone do? With a choice of countless apps, many of them “free,” a/k/a they give you functionality, you give them deeply private data and read their ads, you can track everything you would ever want to know related to your performance.

When I say “performance” I don’t mean “doing something amazing,” I mean “engaging in activities slightly more vigorous than a slug.” Phone apps can measure your menstrual cycles, your heart rate, steps taken, watts expended, and fucks given. Phone apps can do everything that Strava can do, and far more. Better yet, when integrated with other apps, you can have a second-by-second printout of every performance metric known to science, including the performance of your farts.

Oh, and lest you get too confused, Strava also has a “free” version that lets you do an astonishing amount of data tracking as you slugify your way through the day, and it connects with devices made by Garmin, Apple, Fitbit, and others to create a truly complete picture of how much you spend to accomplish so little. As Dolly Parton used to say, “It costs a lot to look this cheap.”

So why in the name of Snykes would you pay $80 for something that’s already free?

Answer: Strava gots the biggest leaderboard.

The only reason anyone cares at all about paid Strava is because they care where they stand on various leaderboards, adjusted of course for age/weight/gender/lameness. The real leaderboard, called a “race result,” is too awful for the rank-and-file Strava-er to contemplate, so instead of competing and getting their asses whipped in realtime, Strava-ers compete in the comfort of their own anonymity on cherry-picked courses with wildly weighted handicaps so that they can exist on a leaderboard and confirm their awesomeness. Strava’s ultimate paeon to vanity is its ability to let you create that special segment that only you will ever be the king of, that is, the one behind your community’s gates from the driveway to the garage door.

In sum, Strava lets you win, or almost win, without ever being a winner. It lets you succeed as a failure. It tells you “attaboy” and “yougogirl” while you go nowhere, achieve nothing. Crucially, while you’re doing all this nothing, other people doing nothing (or their bots) can give you lots of kudos.

People who are trying to build health for the long haul don’t need kudos from strangers. They don’t need babying via silly leaderboards. They don’t get up in the morning to have another crack at the leaderboard. To the contrary, their only measure is “How am I doing today?” The baseline isn’t some doped-up yahoo on an e-bike crushing a segment with 50,000 attempts, the baseline is you.

Strava’s massive failing, or rather its successful sucker pitch to the weak-willed and perennially insecure is found in the case histories of the Great Strava-ers Of Yesteryear. These were the people you knew ten years ago who were crushing all the leaderboards, snagging all the K-QOMS, marinating in the kudo dopamine, badassing here, there, everywhere.

Where are they now? They aren’t atop the leaderboard and they aren’t out crushing it anymore. Most of their K-QOMs have been taken, and if they’re riding at all, it’s to the coffee shop. The fact is that once the thrill of the Strava chase wears off, you quit riding hard and basically go away. Of course you keep your Strava subscription for the same reason that ex-politicians always keep at least one dry-cleaned suit in the closet: never say never.

Strava is dumb and people who pay for it are insecure.

But Strava is not stupid and that’s why they raised their prices. Like the sheeple who raged at Starbucks for doubling the number of points they need to get a “free” undrinkable coffee, the Strava-ers who howled at the recent price increase were ultimately howling at nothing but the moon, because however mad they are today, they’re re-upping when the time comes.

Bank on it. Strava did.


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