Big Data is Like Teenage Sex

Yes, that is a catchy headline, but if you’ve read me for anytime you also know I love a good analogy. This analogy comes from Dan Ariely as shared by Iwona during #cikm2013.

For those who can’t load the image it says:
Big data is like teenage sex:
everyone talks about it,
nobody really knows how to do it,
everyone thinks everyone else is doing it,
so everyone claims they are doing it…

As a big proponent of no sex before marriage, this is a little out there for me, but the analogy illustrated the point so well. In fact, I think this is why in healthcare we’re seeing a new line of smaller data project with meaningful outcomes.

What I wish we could change is the final part. How about we all stop hiding behind what we are and aren’t doing. We all deserve to be frank about our actual efforts. The fact is that many organizations aren’t doing anything with big data and quite frankly they shouldn’t be doing anything. Kind of like how many teenagers shouldn’t be having sex.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Many also live in denial and emphatically state nothing is happening when in fact, nearly the opposite is true. Like teenage sex, big data is here, yes, even in Healthcare, and no amount of denying the obvious will lessen the possible impact, nor change the highly probable end result. Planning for privacy is critical lest our personal identifiable health information will eventually become public.

  • Robert,
    Great extension of the analogy. Definitely another side to it that’s very important. The use of data in healthcare is going to be important and some will be left behind when they don’t acknowledge its potential. I guess I’m just an advocate of data being used when its appropriate and with a meaningful purpose as opposed to just some vague projects with little understanding of the data project goals.

Click here to post a comment