Google Glass and Cultural Progress
Google Glass is seen as a dangerous new step into the global panopticon. It is a well known truth that people act differently when they don’t know if they are or are not being monitored. But the question you should be asking is why?
This, I think, is a simple question to answer. I call it the Facebook life, this is perhaps ironic because it has existed for thousands upon thousands of years. We have all been doing it from the moment we could speak for ourselves. The Facebook life is one where you omit the things or events in your life that you feel are negative while praising and preaching about the things you feel are positive.
What is a negative thing? Generally a negative event or personal trait is one that you think is uncommon in the population. Uncommon traits are usually considered (and perhaps are) uncommon because they are selected against either sexually or culturally (which can in turn be selected against sexually as nobody wants to mate with you). But there is beneath this a dirty little secret. Those things about yourself that you loathe, those things you would never share with anyone around you, they are all almost certainly not uncommon.
In fact I imagine most of the people you meet share some, or all, of your quirks to some varying degree. But the people around you also are hiding those traits. This closed loop likely began a long time ago when someone in a position of cultural shifting power decided that something was unacceptable or “Taboo”. After this it became self regulating as everyone denied their affiliation with that trait and began punishing those that exposed it.
I call this system the Facebook life because they function exactly the same. Every single Facebook friend you have is lying to you. Some because they are afraid and others because of disinterest or perhaps a separate reason. Lies of omission or downright revisionist ramblings flood yours and all Facebook walls.
Long before Facebook people did this and likely for long after Facebook people will continue to do this. That is, unless something like Google Glass becomes globally the norm. I say like Google Glass because it is not really the answer. What you need is some kind of unified mental connection between all people.
There are probably very few traits that are entirely universal but I would guess that most traits are well over the 50% mark. The problem is that with the more taboo feelings you can find the expression of these traits to be career or even life ending. This is because the person you reveal yourself to may be of that minority that does not genuinely share your belief and when they expose you those who do share your belief may (and usually do not) support you for fear that they might be “the only other one”. This can snowball and that danger is what keeps people locked up inside themselves.
Nearly everyone goes through their lives assuming that they are living lesser than those around them because of this. That they are somehow dirtier, or that their lives are less meaningful. Each person sees the yard of their neighbors and wishes that their grass was that straight and gorgeous when really you are just seeing a looping video. Their actual yard looks just like yours, frayed and unkempt.
I don’t believe any cultural progress has been made because of a collective intellectual growth. Instead I suspect that each great step in our various cultures have come in steps. The first is that there is a coincidental surrendering of privacy to a group of persons. This could be done accidentally or intentionally, the only thing that matters is that it was done coincidentally by a large enough group of people.
Basically when your secret gets out at the same time as a large number of other people with the same secret there will be two simultaneous chain reactions. The first is that people will see just how big your group is and question their preconceived notions about you being uncommon and broken (or whatever other negative word you wish). The second is that you will now have an open group to discuss your personal traits with. This support group will, if large enough, generate more members as more people begin to divulge that they too are part of this group.
Because so many traits are shared with so many people this will usually result in that thing becoming accepted at the macro level. This is not because the people demonizing you have become better people morally but because they have either realized they were wrong or have accepted that they have lost control of the situation.
Either way you have one less weight on your shoulders. This is what is happening now with homosexuality, a coincidental surrendering of privacy among a great number of people (and people in positions of “importance”) all revealed they were gay. This in turn results in the non-coincidental addition of new members which is unstoppable without some incredibly bastardly acts (wars, genocide, etc).
Anytime you see this situation unfolding you can safely assume that the topic at hand will be commonly accepted within your lifetime assuming the knee jerk isn’t overly murderous.
So back to Google Glass. As this sort of privacy surrendering culture grows and becomes more socially accepted it will in turn make more things socially acceptable. As each taboo is revealed to be less and less uncommon we will approach them more and more objectively. It will likely not be a fast process and the reason for that is pretty simple. The Facebook life has been around for ages and the current generations all are far too engrained with it to be comfortable with the new “real “ life.
Once it becomes commonplace for people to share their literal thoughts (the data in your mind) across wireless communication, something akin to telepathy, and we can all see just how similar we are I suspect that things like violence and bigotry will become very much retarded. Their power comes from the The Emperor’s New Clothes and the second everyone realizes their accuracy is a farce the illusion is destroyed.
It will take a lot more than a silly always-on face camera, but the point stands. Our privacy is a remnant of this cultural error. It’s based on the fallacy that we have things to be embarrassed about. The things that make you you are very common with the things that make your neighbor, mother, cousin, or boss them.
A global entertainment market wouldn’t work in skeletons-in-the-closet world we convince ourselves actually exists. So yeah I have high hopes for a few generations from now when people are syncing up their brains. A time when you can love and accept who you are and know that you aren’t alone. That’s a beautiful future indeed.