Recently a professor asked me if I would wear Google glasses.
But wait. If you haven't heard about Google glasses or seen this video (or its parody), then here's a summary: Google glasses glue augmented reality onto your face. If you were to dissect your mobile phone and solder all its parts -- camera, video, GPS, texting, face chat, voice commands and so on -- into headwear (and assume they still worked), that's Google glasses. So far they're available only to beta testers, but the question will be real soon enough:
Will you wear them?
I say no, for now. Google glasses have to do a lot more than mimic a dissected phone for me. Like a lot of people, I'm unsure how right this whole cyber-world is anyway. Lately, I've been trying to avoid technology, and I'm not alone. One study found teenagers are suffering "Facebook Fatigue," which explains itself.
Clever right? So bored with Facebook we're forced to shut it off and do something else. I'll confess I have some Facebook Fatigue. But I like the fatigue, want the fatigue, embrace the fatigue. Whitson Gordon of Lifehacker.com reports this month that checking Facebook just once in a 15-minute period can kill your focus.
Once. Reading this blog at work probably does the s..... Well, nevermind.
Forget that part. Carry on, happy reader.
The past month, I've put my laptop to sleep more often than not, hoping to regain touch with the offline world, partially to see if one exists. (The only time I can think I don't use Internet is while traveling, vacationing or working -- and not always then.) I've wound up reading a lot of books and magazines, writing a few thousand words and upping my workout duration. But I'm not sure I'm any better off. Is rapidly consuming a book really better than surfing Twitter for a batch of smaller stories, ultimately? I question if I'll be more enlightened in the long-term.
Grill me about the details of books I read 15 years ago, after all, and you'll get a blank stare.
How permanent is what we consume anyway?
Two scholars, Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown, write that our tools influence how we live, that technology becomes invisible, weaves into our day until we forget about it. Tools become extensions of ourselves. Light bulbs become our eyes in the dark. Pen and paper capture our thoughts and, if that weren't enough, share those thoughts across generations and geographies. Clothes become how we look, who we are. I don't mean to get fancy. The bottom line is a question:
What happens when you get rid of all that technology?
Think about it. If I reject Google glasses, why not reject all tools? Sure, I'd be pretty naked.
But isn't nakedness, incidentally, a state of profound focus? When you're holding the person you love in bed -- while naked, yes -- and you have no tools to help, are you ever more driven to behave like your best self, to say the most truthful sentences, to listen your hardest, to love your most sincerely? Maybe your focus would skyrocket if you moved to the floor or, better, the lawn. Get rid of all technology: the bed and so on. Don't use speech. Grunt. I bet you could focus like a sharpshooter.
That technology-less state seems the way to go for deep focus.
You and I probably can't walk around naked though. Nor can we give up on all tools so easily.
Many of us need phones like we need beds and clothes. So we walk a tightrope: technology on one end of our balancing pole, lucidness on the right, and perfect balance beneath our toes. But we have to know we're on the rope. Awareness is key. The fact we've named "Facebook Fatigue" suggests we've got at least hope for awareness.
Despite all this, I'm still finding my balance. Probably won't ever leave the rope. I don't think adding Google glasses to the left side is the right move, but then, I don't know either. So I leave it to you: Would you wear Google glasses?
Follow Sarah Alban on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SJAlban