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. I hope all of us who are parents are raising our kids in the right way, ensuring 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 technology requiring new etiquette updates than any previous hundred-year window, with Google Glass simply being the most recent addition. Previously, there were 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.
Cell phones, at least, can be put down. You can always demand someone put their phones away, but we’re headed toward a world where smart watches and integrated eyewear can’t be set aside -- and soon enough may become close to invisible. Google Glass today is far different than it will be in five years, when it will likely resemble something more like a heads-up dashboard display inside regular old glasses. That will make etiquette even more important, because those of us on the other side of the tech will still want to live our lives freely.
How comfortable will you be going out on dates knowing your every move might be recorded? How relaxed will you be sitting at a bar with your friends, knowing that 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 adults if they aren’t allowed to make a mistake sometimes? Part of growing up is being allowed to make mistakes -- so you learn what not to do in the future -- and knowing those mistakes won’t haunt you for the rest of your life.
My sons are going to grow up in a world where everyone is obsessed with promoting themselves to every other person who’ll listen. While I know my wife and I will instill values into them, they still have to be trusted to make a mistake once in a while 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” being sullied? Our teachers kept telling us the mistakes we made now would follow us to college and beyond. What a load of BS! Thankfully, we were allowed to make mistakes that were not caught on camera all the time.
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 to 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 allows 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 create an “Average Joe Bill of Rights” that all Google Glass owners must sign before they leave the store or don their tech shades? Will these rules force users to make sure they won’t use Glass in any environment that is supposed to be private?
I hope we see something like a Bill of Rights, which will go a long way toward 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 want the same for your kids?