Breaking my Google Glass changed my identity for the second time in 6 months

{Note: A version of this post edited by Vice Canada was published here on July 4, 2014. This is my unedited version. My Glass were recently replaced free of charge by Google.}

The initial transformation was gradual: I embarrassedly wore Glass for the first time at La Gaurdia airport for 20 minutes before taking them off, disturbed by people staring not at my eyes but just above them. Eventually I adjusted to walking down the street and having every third group of strangers murmur, “hey, those are Google Glass!”, likely aware that I could hear them.

The celebrity of being one of the first in Canada overtook me. A pickup truck full of guys swore “Glasshole!” as they drove by. I picked up a girl at a vernissage after she asked “Are you really wearing those?” (I took the question rhetorically and later took her home). Throughout Jake with Google Glass was different than Jake without.

I had to reinvent etiquette at meetings: I would usually take them off just after shaking hands but they were consistently the first subject of conversation. And in gyms and night clubs – where I would eventually destroy them – the ways and times I wore them and that people interacted with me were ever evolving.

When people asked why I owned Glass, I would explain that I run a software development company and that they were good for marketing (“we’re talking about them now…”), that one of our partners in the US ran a consumer electronics website and had bought them for us. As I wore them more and more often, however, I realized that it was often just for the attention.

I wore them to Art Battle several times. I would record the hundreds of dancing, gawking bodies; watching live painting to loud DJs: the artists, the revelers, my friends, my lovers. I would record bike ride after bike ride, capturing my illegal zig zags across Toronto’s treacherous streetcar tracks and on one occasion another bicyclist falling off his bike at King and Yonge.

Glass even made me question my relationship with others or The Other. One night, in the dark, cramped, loud basement of Parts and Labour, I placed the Glass in my back pocket and almost instantly they disappeared. Scrambling on the floor with a nice, timid couple that had been sitting next to me, desperately trying to find them amidst drunk dancing legs, I approached a black man standing immediately next to me and asked him if he’d seen them in an accusatory tone. At that moment, the couple found them on the floor and my apologies began. The man could see my guilt in my face but would have none of it, “Get out of my face!” he said, and I wandered away in shock, relief and mostly shame. Later I wandered back to apologize again and he told me to get away before he punched me and I almost wanted him to to make me feel better.

Google Glass never worked particularly well for anything other than getting attention and filming the response. Text messages and emails and voice recognition barely functioned to begin with and as I clumsily dropped Glass and stepped on it, the little prism of a screen became less and less clear. Nevertheless, as a tool to capture others attention and record them, Glass was unparalleled.

Others came to identify me with Glass to: they were my signature, the reason someone would remember me.

The link between Glass and others’ perception of me and my perception of myself became strong enough that the morning I awoke to find the Glass broken in half, I was notably depressed at their loss. Breaking a $1500 device in half is never a great way to start a day but my unhappiness was deeper, tied to the reality that I would no longer be a minor celebrity based on this appendage.

And so, about six months after becoming one of the first Canadians with Google Glass, I returned to normality.

Breaking my Google Glass changed my identity for the second time in 6 months

One thought on “Breaking my Google Glass changed my identity for the second time in 6 months

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