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The plight of listening in a Google Glass world

Listening is hard even when there are no distractions. Since there is nowhere on the planet where there are no distractions anymore (or so it seems, at least), the art of listening has been disabled at best and often crippled or even destroyed in the worst environments. Whether you are face-to-face, monitor-to-monitor, or screen-to-screen,  truly hearing what another is saying is a rare occurrence at best. And then comes the best part: we wonder why everything doesn’t work well. More troubling is that we won’t listen to the solution to this problem, which is to listen to everything better.

Sounds a bit overdone or convoluted? That’s OK. It’s hard to listen or understand much of anything today. And guess what? If Google has it their way listening will become a thing of the past. Now, Google doesn’t always get its way, but they do more than most.

Huh, you ask? How can that happen and how is that a good thing? Well, it can happen (to some degree) and if it did happen that would mean it’s a good thing for Google but possibly quite disruptive (in a bad way) to the rest of us.

I am a good listener, apparently
Photo credit: quinn.anya

It can happen because of Google Glass. SNL did a very funny parody of a Google Glass user this past weekend. You know how parody works right? You take something that is observable then you overplay the potential bad or weird parts to make fun of it. The trouble is that even if this parody of Google Glass users is overdone for effect it still has its roots in the idea that wearing a computer of sorts in front of our eyes is a distraction at best and a complete listening shut down at worst.

I honestly could not talk to someone who was wearing a pair of Google Glasses. There would be a few things going through my mind.

  • Are they REALLY listening to me?
  • Are they recording me and not telling me?
  • Are they watching something else while they are having a conversation with me?
  • Just the physical distraction of the glasses themselves could make me lose my concentration.

You can add your questions to this list but you get my point. It would be like talking to Tim Allen’s neighbor Wilson from his Home Improvement show. You remember the guy who you could only see him from the eyes up over the fence?  It would be as if there was nothing else to the person except those glasses and the intent behind them.

Oh and if you really want to go dark here, this is an interesting scenario. I saw an article in the New York Post about the prevalence of actual sociopaths in today’s society. It is believed that 1 in 25 are sociopathic that are not serial killers but they are literally morals and ethics free and couldn’t care less about another human being’s welfare. Put Google Glasses on a person like that and they become a weapon. A bit extreme? Only if you have never had the displeasure of having a person like this in your life for even the shortest amount of time. They exist and they would love to manipulate someone with a technology like this. I promise.

Anyway, listening in the age of Google Glass (if they don’t indeed go the way of the Segway which is what I am praying for) is headed for a serious downswing. We appear to be hell bent on multi-tasking our way out of any real human interaction in the name of ‘accomplishing more’.

My only question is “Accomplishing more what?”

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