Google is full of nerds. This is an obvious proclamation, on the surface, but it’s more meaningful than just “Google is full of people who are really good at coding.” The employees a company hires tend, one way or the other, to define its direction. And the most telling product, in that sense, is the now widely-available Google Glass, possibly the most miserably self-indulgent product a company has ever produced.
Why do I say this? Google Glass is essentially what happens when you let nerds replace social skills with billions of dollars. As a result, it reflects a nerd’s own worst instincts. Everything that’s wrong with being a nerd can be distilled into this $1500 status symbol.
“You’d Get It If You’d Just Admit I’m Right!”
Nerds, especially successful ones, tend towards arrogance. A lot of nerds have been told they’re smart from a very young age, have worked very hard to become smarter and more informed, and have quantifiable data to prove they’re smarter. There is very rarely a more effective way to breed a total douchebag than to puff up somebody’s ego and then have that ego proven right, constantly, and nerds get this all the time.
The end result, especially for highly successful nerds, is that they don’t like to hear that they’re wrong. Hell, nobody does; the human ego is a delicate, angry thing. But it’s especially bad for nerds because their entire identity is built around always having the right answer. They’ve got the 4.0 GPA and the successful tech company to prove they’re right, and you’re wrong, so shut up. Hence Google’s attempt to head off the Glassholes with an FAQ that just emphasized Google itself was run by Glassholes.
Glass has failed as a consumer product. It’s abundantly clear the larger consumer market, Google’s main target, doesn’t want this thing, despite Google’s claims to the contrary. Yet Google will keep forcing the issue until somebody makes them stop.
“Social Interaction Is An Engineering Flaw!”
For various reasons I basically had to start developing actual social skills in college. Stuff that comes naturally to other people, like not being a blunt douchebag, was something I had to work at. I had to apply almost a software program to my social interactions at first so that people wouldn’t think I was a complete jackass. It’s gotten easier, but it was hard at first, and if I didn’t have to make the effort, I probably wouldn’t have.
The stereotype of the nerd as socially awkward isn’t entirely untrue, but it’s not rooted in just not being able to talk to people. Nerds are obsessed with logic, and human interaction has little to do with logic. At their worst, nerds will view social interaction as an engineering flaw to be fixed, or, if it can’t be fixed, to be ignored, because clearly the problem is with the rest of the world, not them.
It’s why most nerds go through an Objectivism phase, it’s why hookup apps exist, and it’s why Google remains baffled a product that involves mounting a sign on your face that tells other people they’re not as interesting as the Internet isn’t a runaway hit. Not that it isn’t true in some cases, but there is a socially expected minimum of tact, here.
Google Glass is built to put a screen between you and the world, to hold other people at arms length. Google loves to make products like this. For example, Google Plus has a baffling feature wherein you can watch social events unfold in real time on your phone while you’re actually at that social event. But in order to have anything resembling a rich fulfilling life, you kind of have to talk to people at some point. Spending $1500 to avoid that just makes people wonder what the hell’s wrong with you.
“The Future Will Be Exactly Like It Was When I Was A Kid!”
Nerds like to imagine they’re forward-thinking pioneers, but the reality is, we’re enormously sentimental. Don’t get me wrong, I get ungodly excited about things like graphene possibly breaking Fourier’s Law and bipedal robots. But I also get livid whenever a TV show from the 1960s gets a ‘disrespectful’ remake from that hack who created Felicity. I can’t really claim I’ve got both eyes firmly fixed on the future, here.
Google Glass, and in fact the entire wearable tech fad, exists entirely because the people who run Google grew up watching stuff that featured wearable technology. Glass has no practical use, whatsoever, to the average consumer. Realistically it never should have been brought to the consumer market; where wearable tech succeeds, it succeeds because there’s a specific use for it, and even then, it can have a shockingly short shelf life. It’s not a fashion statement; it’s a tool.
Google made Google Glass because it’s what the kid inside all those nerds always wanted. And that’s fine, to a point. But it’s not a consumer product, and the sooner Google’s leadership owns up to that, the better off they’ll be.