Google co-founder Sergey Brin recently addressed attendees at the 2013 Technology, Education and Design (TED) conference in Los Angeles.
“Is this the way you’re meant to interact with other people,” he asked. “It’s kind of emasculating. Is this what you’re meant to do with your body?”
Whoa there! Always whipping out your phone in public may be disrespectful and annoying, but emasculating? Puh-lease! For starters, let’s take a moment to really soak up the masculinity of Steve Mann. You remember him, right? He’s the University of Toronto professor who was beaten up in a Parisian McDonald’s after employees objected to Mann’s homemade augmented-reality headset and glasses. Apparently, the workers had a difference of opinion regarding Mann’s sense of carpe diem and his glass’s ability to bring the joie de vivre.
Brin’s statements suggest that always looking down at your phone creates a barrier between yourself and living life to its fullest. I don’t disagree with that. But to imply that Google Glass is going to baptize us in swashbuckling salvation and cut the cord of distraction is preposterous.
I call bovine manure on all that. I wouldn’t be surprised if Glass ushers in a whole new echelon of distraction with people wearing them on for extended periods of time that go well beyond the borders of good taste. We’ll be begging for the days of looking down at our phones. That not only scares the heck out of me, but makes me queasily apprehensive about the fate of genuine human interaction.
Personally, I would have a hard time interacting with someone wearing Glass, if not go all Parisian McDonald’s on ‘em. I keep picturing the most masculine people I know and I can’t for the life of me see any of them donning a pair. I know he’s fictional, but for some reason I keep picturing known-luddite and masculine mench Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec. Maybe it’s because, like me, Ron’s a native Hoosier or because wood worker Nick Offerman, who brings Ron to life, shares the same first name as me, but Ron certainly embodies some sort of modern masculinity in popular consciousness. If anything, I think of Ron because his compassionate, philosophical side always breaches the surface of the selfish and stereotypical lunk-headed man.
If someone stepped to Ron while wearing Glass or invited him to try on a pair, I think it’s pretty obvious how he’d react. Need proof? Check out this clip. I stand with Ron Swanson.
However, that’s just the raging, knee-jerk skeptic in me shaking his fist from the front porch. Who knows, maybe Glass won’t infringe on the sanctity of unbridled face-to-face interaction. For the sake of mankind, I hope in 20 years, if I’m still ticking, that I’m sitting at my Offerman-made, walnut dining table in front of a big plate of crow.
Until then, Errol Morris, if you’re listening, can you please film some new Miller High Life commercials with Nick Offerman as the lead? Or better yet, perhaps some commercials with Sergey Brin sporting a pair Google Glass(es). As his beard indicates, he’s obviously man enough for the job.
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