Posted on January 23, 2008
Filed Under Culture & Technology |
I was amused to see that 23andMe, the “web-based service that helps you read and understand your DNA” that I named one of the Dumbest Startups of 2007, is giving away 1,000 of its kits to attendees. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch is in Davos, but he had already purchased a 23andMe kit so he has decided to give it away to the most deserving TechCrunch reader.
Reading the comments of those who really actually care is both amusing and sad at the same time. From those who lament the fact that they know little to nothing about their heritage to those whose families have been plagued by diseases like cancer, lots of people seem to have a desire to find out who they are genetically. While this is not surprising to me, this notion that knowing what your genes say is going to make your life better is asinine. Benjamin Franklin stated “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Great accountants have proven the latter to be false but I don’t think the former will be proven false anytime soon.
Given that, one of the saddest things about our declining culture is the collective state of denial we all seem to be in over aging and death. Instead of accepting that we will get old and die, we, at best, immaturely pretend that those things don’t exist, and at worst, fight against fate to delay the inevitable, most often at the expense of quality of life. 23andMe plays on this cultural deficiency and while it’s true that the information 23andMe might provide about your susceptibility to diseases such as cancer could be somewhat useful, I question what the real point is.
The truth is that we have no control over the past and the future. You will die. How, you can never know. Your genes might say you’re more likely to die of a heart attack, but a drunk driver might get you first. Your genes could say that you’re going to lead a long, healthy life, but you might forget to make a payment to Drama 2.0 and find out that collections can be hazardous to your well-being. As such, I think services like 23andMe are quite silly. Yes, you could use the information provided to take preventative action, but if you really cared about your health in the first place, wouldn’t you be leading a healthy lifestyle anyway? The easiest preventative measures you can take to reduce your chances of getting heart disease, cancer, etc. are, for the most part, a healthy diet and exercise. In other words, if you need 23andMe kit to confirm that you can benefit from living a healthy lifestyle, you’re probably already fucked.
All this said, I do think that there is one TechCrunch reader who is truly deserving of a 23andMe kit:
January 22nd, 2008 at 11:21 pm
I believe that I may be inbred. My mother and father bear an uncanny resemblace to each other, both had the same last name before they were married and they tell me that I can only meet one pair of grandparents.
I have been plagued by bad health and learning disabilities my entire life and I am cross-eyed. At school, my classmates tease me and say that I’m missing a chromosome. I sort of look like Larry Page except I’m even more deformed looking.
If I am truly inbred, it is likely that I have genetic abnormalities that may cause serious medical conditions and could very well cut my life short. This is problematic for me since my only dream since the 1st grade was to have my own Web 2.0 startup. I started coding my Web 2.0 application when I was 7 and I expect that I will have an alpha version ready by 2010. I hope to then apply for YCombinator or TechStars.
23andMe can not only provide the confirmation that I am the result of an immoral act, but can tell me if this has left me with deficient genes. Michael, this could be my only hope. I work as an assistant manager at Harvey’s and all my free time is spent trying to code Ruby on Rails. Therefore I don’t have the ability to earn enough money to pay for a 23andMe kit. Please find it in the kindness of your heart to give me this kit. I would do anything for you if you give me this one chance to find out my fate. I’d even go so far as to hook you up with a free Angus burger with onion rings.
How could anybody turn their back on someone like this? If TechCrunch refuses to give “Inbred Canadian” a 23andMe kit, I extend an offer of my own: come to Prague and I’ll hook you up with a pity fuck courtesy of one of my courtesans. No Angus burger required. For the rest of you worry warts, stop this nonsense and enjoy today.Print This Post