1. Behind Glass | The Antisocial Truth of Social Tech

     

  2.  


  3. Imagine a world of silence, where human hello’s are a rarity. Dinner table conversation, happy hour chatter, and catch-up over coffee are all extinct. Instead of exchanging words and sharing moments, we blankly stare at a small screens affixed to our faces. Welcome to the world of Google Glass.

    I was recently selected to be part of Google’s Glass Explorers program, a type of beta test group for Glass.  After picking up my Glass from Google and receiving an hourlong orientation, my feelings toward Glass quickly shifted from awe to skepticism.

    After just a few minutes of using Glass, you start to disconnect from your surroundings. People’s faces and conversations are put in the background as you build your own virtual reality within Glass. Nothing is as important or prominent as your view. Take Glass off, and you can’t help but feel both your eyes drift toward the space where the Glass screen was once sitting. Suddenly you feel out of the loop. It’s as if you’ve left your phone at home and you aren’t sure if someone is trying to contact you.

    Try to wear Glass throughout your day and it becomes apparent that there is no hope of winning the battle against compulsive email/text/Facebook checking. All social updates are instantly thrown in your face, taking the meaning of “always on” to a new level.  But, by being “always on,” we are forced to turn something off – human interaction. Conversations with friends get put on the backburner as tweets from @KatyPerry (or the like) get pushed to the screen in your eye. Family outings get put on pause as you check to see how many “friends” have liked your post about family time. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, real life is put on hold when Glass has something it wants you to see.

     

  4.  


  5. But as we build a world with ourselves at the center, the ones we hold dearest are getting cut out of everyday moments. The way Glass is designed, only you can see what’s going on, isolating you with experiences that uniquely yours. Glass encourages you to live in a world curated by you for you. This literally puts a wall between you and your peers. And as developers create the apps that will take Glass to the next level, this wall will only thicken. Soon you’ll look at someone and be able to see how many people have “liked” them, how compatible they are with you, where they’re from… anything. Suddenly we aren’t looking at people; we’re looking through them to determine their worth.

    All this isn’t to say that there aren’t a million amazingly wonderful things that Glass can and will do – help the blind navigate, find missing persons, help teach surgeons, the list goes on and on. And the truth is, we are already sacrificing personal interactions for digital ones. We are permanently glued to our phones. Our heads hang low as we constantly check for emails and send texts.

    Many may have made similar arguments when cell phones first came out, claiming that they would interrupt real life social moments where we should not be disturbed. And I think most of us agree that our compulsive phone usage does interfere with daily social interactions. How many times do we wish the office couldn’t reach after hours or that our in-laws couldn’t contact us while on vacation? Despite initial reservations, cell phones have become integral to our daily lives, which leaves us wondering, will Glass catch on just the same?

    Technology like Glass is further proof that our attention has become a hot commodity. Advertisers spend billions of dollars trying to capture it, and we continue to invest in tools and devices that guard it from others, ensuring that we only see what we want to see. The more you use Glass, the more apparent it becomes that Glass was created for the “me generation.” It’s all about what you see, and what you want to see. You are at the center of command with God-like powers. (Granted, you’re a very limited God without Wi-Fi or data tethering.) But still, the world jumps at the sound of your voice. Messages, photos, knowledge literally revolves around you.

     

  6.  


  7. So the question is not “How do we combat Glass?” but rather “How do we police our own personal tech consumption?” To quote C.S. Lewis, “Good and evil both increase at compound interest.”  When it comes to technology new and old, it’s about the choices we make and how we will use it. The secret to a healthy life using Glass, as with all technology, will be using it to break down walls, not build them.

    By Megan Nuttall

    Photography: Romain Laurent
    Retouching: Clare McGibbon
    Art Director: Monica Lo