There’s a lot I admire about Google. From Google Cars and Google Fiber to Google Ventures and Google Tax Avoidance, there’s no denying that Larry Page and Sergey Brin are hell bent on moving away from mere mundane web services and are looking to drastically alter the world we live in. However, as much as I love them for it, there’s one invention I find myself loathing the idea of more and more every day: Google Glass.
Call me a traditionalist, call me unadventurous, call me old fashioned, but the idea of strapping a glorified smart phone to the side of my head fills me without about as much enthusiasm as the notion of developing a permanent eye disorder (one has to wonder if optometrists are secretly funding the entire product’s development). Not that I’m a particularly vain or shallow chap (honestly!) but I do question the need to turn the human race into Borg-esque wannabes, permanently wearing a device that vibrates soundwaves to our inner ear via our cheekbone. There’s no media spin that can make that technological breakthrough sound appealing to me.
Fortunately, I’m not alone in my dislike of Glass and a few bored individuals recently coined the phrase ‘glasshole’ which, whilst more humorous than it is clever, does reflect the backlash that’s already begun at the thought of the product being released to the public. Looks like there are enough of us out there who already hate the notion of anyone but cab drivers and dental victims wearing a mechanical device strapped to their face. Some businesses have apparently even gone ahead and banned Glass from their premises already.
Aside from the cosmetic side effects that come from looking like a total moron as you stare glaze-eyed into space whilst pilfering through your friends’ Facebook photos on the subway, there is a much wider issue in that of privacy. How many people will be photographing, recording and video taping conversations without the recipient’s knowledge? How many of us will be doing it back to them without them knowing either? How will the Internet possibly handle this inevitable feedback loop of constant monitoring and uploading? These are the questions that only the Facebook of the future will be able to answer.
However, it looks like Google Glass is dead set on coming and there’s nothing we can do about it. In fact, early reports indicate that it’s actually pretty useful at performing tasks such as searching Google, mapping out directions and making phone calls. Revolutionary. Of course, these features will eventually be enhanced with other tools along with third party apps that, combined, will make the device a worthy addition to every day life. Or so they say. Personally, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to know if Glass has hit the big time until the government institues bans on multi-conference video class whilst driving (c’mon, we all know someone’s going to try it).
But fine, I’ll admit my dislike for Glass is a tad unfounded and that perhaps it’s (more than partly) born out of the instinctual need to want to protect my current way of life in spite of what seems to some pretty radical lifestyle changes coming up. But as someone who has grown up with technology, works with it on a daily basis, and embraces much of it as part of their life, I find myself somehow deterred by just how obstructive and unrelenting Google Glass seems to be. For a device that’s sole purpose is to seamlessly integrate into our lives, all it does is remind us how separated we have become with the important things in it – friends, family, nature, and good old fashioned real life connectivity.
As much as I love the boundaries it pushes, I can’t help but feel that Google Glass is taking us down a path that’s going to damage our fundamental social interaction, more so than any smart phone or social media service ever has before. I believe technology should supplement and ease our existence, not take over from it, and, personally, I find Glass a step too far.
Plus, at a thousand bucks a pop, it’s never been so expensive to look like a total tit.