Remember when Google released a handful of guidelines explaining how to properly behave while wearing its new “face computer,” Google Glass? One rule in particular seems worth rehashing given recent events: Don’t “be creepy or rude (aka, a ‘Glasshole’)” suggested Google.
While generally good advice, it seems like the nuances involved with Google’s recommendations here – “respect others” and “be polite” – are still up for interpretation. And not just for the Glass wearers, as it turns out.
Case in point: whatever on earth went down at that San Francisco bar on Friday night, which left one woman claiming to have been assaulted and robbed, for the sole crime of using Google Glass.
To be clear, it wasn’t prohibited for bar patrons at Molotov’s, the Haight Street bar in San Francisco where the incident took place, to sport Google’s geeky eyewear.
But just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.
“I think everybody was just upset that she would be recording outside of a bar this late with obvious embarrassing behavior going on,” one spectator told local reporters. “And just rather insulted that someone thinks it’s okay to record them the entire time they’re in public.”
There are two important things to note here: one, it’s possible that the victim, Sarah Slocum, wasn’t being well-behaved. We don’t know, we weren’t there.
Entirely separately from that, assaulting someone for “being rude” is actually still a crime. You cannot murder people because their music is too loud. You cannot rape people because they disrespected you. And you cannot rip off people’s headwear and steal their personal effects because you have issues with the more invasive aspects of certain technologies.
Sure, the victim may have used poor judgement. She may have ignored, missed or dismissed the verbal concerns and abuses, which allowed the incident to escalate. (Until someone releases audio and video that details what exactly happened in terms of the robbery itself, it’s all hearsay, of course.)
Still, I understand why people may have been reacting negatively to Slocum’s wearing of the high-tech glasses – it is to be expected.
They are not for everyone. They are, in fact, a very big, very obvious divider (at least for now, while still elite, expensive and non-ubiquitous) between two contentious factions in a city where people have been fighting over much more serious issues, including the lack of affordable housing, San Francisco’s gentrification, forced evictions and the like.
For some, Google Glass could very well be symbol of all that is wrong with the tech industry today. And you even wear that thing on your forehead, too. You really cannot get more blatant than that.
I know that Glass makes people uncomfortable. I also hate it when people whip out their phones and take your photo and/or video without asking first, during what was, until that moment, a private, interpersonal interaction. I may be growing to accept that this “new rude” is something which I have to learn to tolerate, but after a few shots of tequila, I might tell you exactly what I think about all that.
A verbal tirade would be the end of it for me, however.
Allegedly, Ms. Slocum’s situation was much worse. A person or persons accosted her, forcibly removing her Glass, and stealing her purse and phone too. If that’s the case, it’s a crime that should be pursued and treated like any another.
After all, “she was asking for it” is not an excuse I’m fond of, having been very close to a number of people whose assailants could have used that same catchphrase to justify far worse actions.
Distaste for Google Glass – like distaste for over-loud cellphone gabbing, paparazzi-style photos, or say, playing death metal at a country bar – should stop with verbal complaints.
Take it any further, and the real “Glasshole” in the situation becomes you.
Long story short, when it comes to the ethics and morals around wearing Glass, the same rules that apply to smartphone owners should apply here. For instance, if you’re around, drunk, potentially belligerent people who don’t want to be filmed, then don’t do it.