BY TED DINITUS
In a move that has caused runners worldwide to take pause and reevaluate their motivations for participating in an activity they supposedly enjoy, photographer Nik Nystrom has released a portfolio of images featuring runners with their beloved GPS sports watches, heart rate monitors, headphones and other tech photoshopped out of view. The shocking photos clearly demonstrate what despicable, tech-obsessed assholes almost all runners have become.
According to the Pee-Yew Research Center, approximately 99% of all runners utilize some form of technology while running. The problem has become so acute that it is not uncommon to see runners unthinkingly amble into head-on traffic, faces buried in their Garmins as they endanger their own – and others’ – lives. Some innocent bystanders have even witnessed runners plunge straight off the edge of steep cliffs, their ears and attention preoccupied with the latest Meghan Trainor jam.
The project, which Nystrom has titled These Doctored Images Prove That Almost All Runners Are Gadget-Addicted Morons, was inspired by a recent experience walking through a city park:
I was walking through the park one crisp, fall morning, just minding my own business, when I noticed a couple of things about almost all of the runners around me. First, they were totally obsessed with their GPS watches and other tech, like headphones and foot pods. I observed that this, in itself, was a scathing indictment of just how disconnected runners have become – from themselves, and from each other. I also noticed the sheer danger that these obsessions introduced. One man was so busy staring into his Garmin – measuring his pace, I don’t know – that he didn’t even realize he was robbing a 90-year-old widow of her wedding ring while simultaneously molesting a blind puppy! Another woman was so ‘into’ whatever song was pumping through her headphones that she didn’t pick up on the fact that the headphone cord had wrapped around her neck and choked her to death! She’d been dead for minutes, but was just traipsing along like nothing was wrong! Then, there was the guy who was clearly using his heart rate monitor to hack into people’s personal health information for purposes of blackmail and extortion – all while clocking a 7-minute mile! Right then, I realized I had important work to do as a photographer – to document this moral descent and “right the ship,” to what degree I could.
Nystrom then initiated the project, which involved getting area runners to agree to be photographed wearing various running-related tech. “I didn’t have much trouble getting volunteers,” said Nystrom. “Runners are self-involved narcissists by nature. If anything, I had too many people clamoring for a shot to be noticed online.”
After the photo shoots were complete, Nystrom proceeded to edit out all running-related technology from the images, leaving a stark reminder of how accustomed we’ve become to seeing all manner of gadgets on runners, and how desensitized we’ve become to the adverse impacts of athletic technology.
“I wasn’t interested in taking pictures of people with Garmins on, with earbuds in. That’s been done. What I’m hoping this project will do is increase awareness. Runners can’t just absentmindedly jog into some stranger’s house, steal their flat screen TV, expose themselves to their children and then set the house on fire because they’re too wrapped up in their sports watch to notice their transgressions. This has to stop.”
Anticipation is high for Nystrom’s next project, where he will take a series of images from recent ultramarathons and digitally remove the pained expressions from the ultrarunners’ faces to prove how obsessed we have become with running long distances.
Here are a few of Nystrom’s images: