Finally, a Wristwatch for the YOLO in You

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 9 2013 6:06 PM

Finally, a Wristwatch for the YOLO in You

Tikker: Counting down to your death

Photo from Kickstarter

If the ancient Roman poet Horace of “carpe diem” fame were in the market for a wristwatch, he’d nab a Tikker. The so-called “death watch” calculates the likely moment of your death, then its LCD display ticks off each fleeting second of your remaining time on earth, delivering a metaphysical jolt with every glance at your wrist.

While the psychological impact of having a constant reminder of death within arm’s reach might be hard to swallow, Tikker’s actuarial calculation is supremely user-friendly: Simply fill out a lifestyle and health questionnaire and deduct your current age from the results. Then let the countdown begin.


Founder Fredrik Colting came up with an idea of a death watch when his grandfather passed away several years ago. "It made me think about death and the transience of life, and I realized that nothing matters when you are dead. Instead what matters is what we do when we are alive," Colting is quoted as saying on the company’s Kickstarter page.

With 22 days left before its pledge drive expires, Tikker has already exceeded its $25,000 goal by raising $38,368 from 861 backers. On first glance, a digital crowdfunding push may seem counterintuitive given that most people age 30 or younger don’t wear wristwatches since ubiquitous smart phones with clocks has obviated their need. At least, that has been the conventional wisdom, which may or may not be shifting with the release of Samsung’s new smart watch.

On the other hand, perhaps Tikker has tapped into a rich cultural vein that transcends generational divides. The $39 gadget would seem not only to validate but actually quantify millennials’ YOLO ethos. And the uber-popular Breaking Bad’s protagonist Walter White would have continued teaching high school chemistry in obscurity had his terminal cancer diagnosis not catalyzed his dark ascension to the apex of the southwestern U.S. meth trade as the seconds of his life ticked away.

For now, the watchmakers have supplied more metaphysical questions than answers. “Apart from the software and hardware, we are also working hard on the actual impact of using Tikker,” its Kickstarter site reads. “The technical aspects of Tikker is one thing, but the psychological and philosophical aspects are much harder to gauge, and test.”

The watchmakers hope that a constant reminder of life’s ephemeral nature will reframe users’ attitudes, gradually leading them to be happy rather than sad, to forgive rather than remain angry, to wear a smile instead of a frown. But if Urban Dictionary is correct in that YOLO translates roughly to “carpe diem for stupid people,” maybe Tikker’s goals are unrealistically high-minded for young users whose YOLOism tends more toward social Darwinism than life-affirmation.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.