The Urban Dictionary defines “Glasshole” as “a person who constantly talks to their Google Glass, ignoring the outside world” or “someone who has early access or is in possession of Google Glasses, and flaunts them around like a jerk”. These definitions are spot-on and as my kids get older and my perspective changes slightly I hope all of us who are parents are raising our kids in the right way to ensure we don’t raise a generation of glassholes.
As new technology goes mainstream, etiquette rules have to be updated to protect society from being taken over by the machines. I would argue the last 10 years have created more etiquette requirements than any previous hundred-year window, with Google Glass and the necessary associated social decorum simply being the most recent addition. Previous to Google Glass it was cellphones and most recently wearable tech like FitBit and Nike FuelBand, both of which are at least unobtrusive and more indicative of a person’s geekiness about themselves.
Cellphones, at least, can be put down. You can always demand someone put their phones away, but we’re headed towards a world where smart watches and integrated eyewear are unable to be set aside and soon enough may become close to invisible. Google Glass today is far different than it will be in 5 years, when it will likely resemble something more like a heads-up dashboard display inside regular old glasses. That makes etiquette now even more important because those of us on the other side of the tech will need to be considered in terms of personal considerations and our ability to live our lives freely and without fear of consequence. How comfortable will you be as a mid-twenties adult going out on dates knowing your every move might be recorded? How can you put your foot in your mouth if you’re constantly afraid to talk off the record? Every girl or guy you go on a date with will be wearing glasses, and you’ll assume everyone you know has astigmatism! How relaxed will you be sitting at a bar with your friends knowing potentially every dumb thing you say or do (and trust me – you say dumb things all the time at a bar) could be broadcast on the web for your relatives or co-workers to see? Without rules the world could quickly become a conservative, risk-free environment and where’s the fun in that? How do you expect your kids to grow into mature, responsible, respectful adults if they aren’t allowed to make a mistake sometimes?
Part of growing up is being allowed to make mistakes and knowing those mistakes wont haunt you for the rest of your life. You have to be able to look like a dummy once in awhile. You have to make mistakes in order to learn what not to do in the future. My sons are going to grow up in a world that is obsessed with promoting itself to every other person who’ll listen and while I know my wife and I will instill values and morals and ethics into them, they still have to be trusted to act like a dummy and make a mistake once in awhile without those mistakes being broadcast for the world, or etched in some permanent digital history. Remember High School and the threat of your “permanent record” that was thrust at you by your high school guidance counselor time after time? Imagine if that were real… they kept telling us the mistakes we made now would follow us to College and beyond. What a load of B.S! Thankfully we were allowed to make mistakes and have them not caught on camera all the time.
But I digress.
Google Glass and other wearable connected tech are changing how we live our lives and etiquette rules need to be written, shared and enforced. Users of new technology need understand the guidelines within which this tech can be used and the rest of the world around them needs to be empowered to opt-out or at least be aware. Our industry itself has adopted this model and we allow consumers to opt-out of targeted ads and interactions, so why can’t it be the same for the rest of the world?
Who is going to take the lead here? Will Google go so far as to create an “Average Joe Bill of Rights” that every Google Glass owner must sign before they leave the store or don their tech shades? Will it force them to make sure they won’t use Glass in any environment that is shrouded by the implication of privacy?
I hope we see something like this develop – it will go a long way to making sure our kids grow up in a world where they can make a mistake from time to time and learn from the errors of their ways. That is a future I wish for my boys as they grow and become young men. Don’t you wish the same for your kids?