Glassholes are People Too
Important etiquette lessons in the age of the Google cyborg
By: Loren March, staff writer
When we were kids, it was pretty much the cardinal rule not to punch the kid who wore glasses. It was just wrong. It was crossing a line.
At the end of February, social media consultant Sarah Slocum was allegedly attacked in a bar in San Francisco for wearing glasses, her Google Glass, and allegedly filming bar patrons without their consent. In a more recent attack on April 11, San Francisco journalist Kyle Russell had his pair viciously stolen right off his face by a woman who yelled, “Glass!” and then fled, smashing the device on the ground as Russell pursued.
There is just something about Glass that makes people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough to spur a barrage of online rants about punching Glass wearers, hate/joke blogging, satirical skits, and the creation of anti-Glass groups like Stop The Cyborgs.
A Google Image search for Glass users brings up photos of happy or ultra-cool, seemingly all-knowing, cybernetic elite wearing their $1500 glasses. Maybe that’s partly why there’s been a recent string of Glass-related assaults. Do their privileged little faces make you want to punch them? I didn’t even have to click on the image of one so-called “Glasshole” donning his pair in the shower to begin understanding why the rest of us, who are still wandering around with a smartphone in one hand, might want to use the free one to punch a Glass wearer in the face.
It is abnormal to want to punch a stranger in the face and at the same time not understand what’s offensive about this new wearable technology. A Google spokesperson stated on Monday after the most recent attack, “Targeting anyone for a crime because of what they wear is wrong.” Besides, the people themselves seem nice enough, maybe even overly friendly. Every Glass Explorer (yes, the lucky owners are called “Explorers”) I talked to was incredibly warm and open and very eager to talk about their new toy. So I figured it couldn’t be the people behind the glasses that the public hates on so hard. It had to be the glasses themselves.
But what is it exactly about Glass that is distasteful enough to incite property damage, theft, and assault? These days, it seems pretty hard to find any technology that isn’t being embraced, especially if it’s usable as a social deterrent.
It seems harder still to imagine anybody wanting to knock you out for wearing a pair when you check out their PCMag’s review. They compare wearing the glasses in public to “having a cute dog.” People are bound to walk up, touch, ask questions, and talk about them. This is because Glass doesn’t exactly look like your everyday spectacles. They’re more like something out of Terminator or Star Trek, with a distinct futuristic flavour in their streamlined design.
However, if you wear prescription glasses, you have to wear Glass overtop of them, which is nearly impossible to do. And since a standard pair goes for $1500 plus tax, they’re a little out of range for your average Joe. An extra $225 could get you a more “normal” looking version of the current Glass, but they still look completely different from regular glasses.
You never see people walking up to people with cute dogs in the park and punching them out for it – not even those who keep their dogs in purses or dress them up in tiny degrading outfits. Or at least I hope not. Is this the “augmented reality” that Google promised? A bizarre world where random civilians, driven mad by perpetual surveillance and the wares of Silicon Valley, have witnessed one too many selfies, read one too many soul-sucking status updates, and tweeted out hard enough to take to the streets, unleashing their frustrations on some poor nerdy unsuspecting victim who could do all three of these tasks with no hands?