Have you seen the latest in digital gadgetery? If you haven't, you'll notice this latest gizmo, "Google Glass," strikes a close resemblance to Jordi's visor in Star Trek's Next Generation, as you can see here.
Talk about life imitating art. Wow!
Glasses like this are all over the sci-fi world. Remember Arnold's Terminator?
This isn't just a virtual reality eye piece as some high-tech visors and glasses are, but a new way to connect without lifting a finger. While some reviewers online have raved over this latest techno-gizmo to allow us to be even more socially connected than we are now, one review caught my eye as more cautionary, more concerned.
On Venturebeat.com, noted:
... I'm concerned that more and more, we tech-obsessed few are starting to share without asking why we're sharing in the first place. Everything from our food to our kids to our locations gets plastered onto the web, even though there's very little impetus to do so aside from vanity
...For some of us, we're convinced our Instagram snaps and Twitter quips are an art form, that our very special self-expression is unique, witty, and brimming with creative value.
The author did not shy away from unpopular opinions of the social digital world and tossed out a view that was so compelling I found myself reading it over a few times. Could it be, the author asserted, we are spending so much time questing to be social online that we're losing ourselves offline? Given my observations with people I know on and offline, professionally and personally, I'd have to say "yes... yes we most definitely are!"
Beyond just losing our identity, there is another factor at play, again unpopular. Going back to the Star Trek comparison, the author actually uses a Borg hive reference:
... Glass as it was shown today is another disturbing step toward an all-social, always-on web of connectivity that isn't a means to an end as much as it is a cause in and of itself. It's the hive mind, and in many ways, it's already here.
Just to be clear, according to Dictionary.com, a "hive mind" is a "type of collective consciousness, when individuality is stifled." Think about any social interaction online. How often do people actually talk together vs simply agreeing with each other? I've noticed much less true connections online, and offline, since we've become more "connected." We "like" links and posts and comments and tweets but rarely converse, interact and, dare I say, gather offline any more to truly connect. We've become an online hive.
Granted, we don't exactly know how Google Glass will be used and what its social impact will be but given past web 2.0 technologies, it's a safe bet that Google Glass will be purchased and used rampantly. So, is resistance futile? Should we all place our orders and call it a day like good hive members? If we were Borg, we'd have no choice. Well, that's not quite true, is it? One Borg, 7 of 9, did make a choice. She opted to be free of the hive. So, why can't we? We can. In fact, we must.
I'm convinced that if we all unplug more and remember what that feels like -- expose our kids to it so they understand how wonderful it is and how important that freedom of lack of 24/7 connectedness is in their lives -- the only resistance that will be futile will be the need to not plug-in. That's not to suggest we shouldn't dabble in new technology from time to time or even use it. Our job is to be better at balance and not use it as part of the hive. Our job is to use new technology as part of our individual lives to enhance our lives as people, no drones.
So, my friends, as we wrap up another Internet safety month, just remember that new technology will always come knocking and when it does you have a choice: resistance isn't futile. As yourself, do you want to be a drone, part of the hive...or like 7 of 9, and be free to live your life with the good of technology but not the burden of it?
I have to unplug now. My daily walk, with regular sunglasses, and a camera not attached to a
Follow Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, MD on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drgwenn