I was going to write something about how Google Glass is for losers who have to live their lives through a technological veil and I thought better of it. Apart from the medical, engineering, and commercial applications I thought there may be a little envy in my skepticism about needing to have a computer strapped to my head so I can see the world the way a bazillion dollar company wants me to see it.
The thing is, we’re all bored, distracted, unengaged so we can be socially virtually engaged. Like automatons we stare at our screens so we can avoid the feeling of being truly alone with our thoughts and messy awkward emotional stuff. It feels better to browse the social world than to be alone in a social world; than to be still, really still.
“Now-such is progress-the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think or if ever by some unlucky chance such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid substance of their distractions, there is always soma, delicious soma, half a
gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon; returning whence they find themselves on the other side of the crevice, safe on the solid ground of daily
labour and distraction, scampering from feely to feely, from girl to pneumatic girl, from Electromagnetic Golf course to.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
I don’t really give a fuck about how amazing your 8-course degustation was. I don’t care for that picture of your brand new $8,000 road bike casually leaning against a rustic brick wall. I don’t care that the waiter was rude, that your cat farted, that your boss is an asshole, that you’ve booked a holiday to a third world destination where the government of the day is best described as benevolent and draconian. That you have a problem with alcohol concerns me only a little, and I really don’t give a fuck that you reckon it’s smart to take a photo of a bottle of Crystal Champagne next to your book about lean start-ups. I’m impressed that you have a job but I don’t care that the train is late.
In fact like most of friends on social media, I am a pretty bad friend. I really don’t give a fuck about the trivial shit that you want to show me. What I really care about is what makes you tick. What you think the future of democracy is. How you think global warming should be handled. How you reckon economics and technology can work hand-in-hand to improve the lives of everybody not just a privileged few in the first world. If you want to have a conversation about how you lie awake at night worrying about Google and Facebook and Twitter and Big Data knowing more about you than your partner then I am totally open to it.
So the idea of being distracted by a tweet-stream in front of my eyeball which makes me miss a sunset, or my kids doing something stupid makes me sad. Sad for me and sad for the other technology obsessed wankers who simply must have the latest gizmo without reflection about the deeper impact on themselves and those around them. The world can surprise, disturb, and amaze – if we let it slap us in the face. Experience through a commercial veil, as an agent for big data is a sucky way to live. The thing is that being trapped in a meaningless technological feedback loop can be socially isolating regardless of device.
I started this rant saying i wasn’t going to write anything about Google Glass and I guess I did. It feels better.
Put the glasses down.
Leave the phone on your desk.
Step outside, feel the wind on your face, and then smile at a stranger.