I’m a cyborg, but I’m not a very good one.
I got Glass. Technically, just having GoogleGlass does not fit the correct definition of cyborg. I realize this.
“Okay, Glass,” I say. “Google: cyborg.” I then learn I pronounce things oddly.
“5 Ward,” Glass googles. Then “sorry board.” (It shows me some lovely images of Sorry boards.) Then “psyborg.” (“Psyborg is a branding, graphic design, web design and interactive media studio focused on creative and useable…”) “nothing sorry board.” “keyboard.” “No no not bored.” “psych ward.” “tribal Aug” which doesn’t even make sense. “51.”
Then I yell “HOMOPHONES! HOMOPHONES EXIST YOU BLAZING MORON!” and it turns itself off.
Technology-wise, I am from the time-honored school of Yell At It And Maybe It’ll Start Doing What You Want. It is good that I have no children.
All the years of grudges that Autocorrect has stored up against me are coming out now.
You can use GoogleGlass to send emails. No, seriously, you can, as long as you don’t mind the possibility that your email may look a little different. You intended to say:
So, the big trouble you’re about to discover with Google Glass messages is that they’re just as bad as getting regular voicemail messages from me but are instead fully transcribed by a computer and lack the verve and color of my emails — do my emails have verve and color? I’m not really sure they have verve and color but anyway, um, so verve and color with that — VERVE — okay I’m going to stop talking this is a long magnum opus you meant like a minuscule amount of text and this is a humongous text.
This will come out as:
So the big trouble is your back to discover with Google last messages is there just as bad as getting regular voicemail message from me but are instead fully transcribed by a computer the verb in color of my emails to my email have Bourbon color I’m not really sure they have ribbon color but anyway um so rude and color with that vervoer okay I’m going to stop talking about sex long magnum opus thought you meant like a few minutes will not a text and this is far from Millville mass text.
It’s like having a Dadaist with poor hearing transcribe everything you say.
But possibly this is just me. The future is here, and the future does not like me. Movies make it look so easy. You want to pull up the fancy holoscreen, you pull it up with a flick of your fingers. Movies about the future do not show you sitting there for several minutes yelling, “No! SORRY, I didn’t mean that! Go back! No, wait! No, [expletive] [expletive] DAGNABBIT! Don’t send — aw [expletive].” at the holographic display. “HOMOPHONES, YOU MORON!”
If I ever have to get a robotic arm, I will be the one thrashing around killing civilians by mistake. “I’m sorry,” I will say, as I gather up locals in death grips. “Really I am. I’m crushed. No, arm, I was apologizing, not telling you to crush. Don’t crush! Dagnabbit! Stop! Bad arm!”
If I were put in charge of the Death Star, the Death Star would drive past your planet trying to look like it knew where it was going, then accidentally crash into a small moon, and then back up in what I kept telling myself was a totally-chill-nothing-to-see-here-this-route’s-totally-quicker-I’m-really-familiar-with-this-area air of nonchalance. When I told my friends to come over because “I’m totally going to blow up this planet right now!” there would be a couple of fizzles and nothing would happen.
“I’m sorry,” HAL would say. “I can’t do that, Alexandra. Not because I’ve become malicious and sentient, but because nothing you’ve just said is recognizable as a command.”
Yet somehow I wound up with Google Glass.
I suspect that this is all some sort of hideous mistake. My tweet was “#ifIhadglass I would shut my eyes and make him read me true, poignant stories from American lives” and this somehow prompted the response, “@petridishes You’re invited to join our #glassexplorers program. Woohoo! Make sure to follow us – we’ll DM in the coming weeks.”
It was like getting a Golden Ticket. It was like getting an appointment with the king to cure your scrofula. You could bring a friend with you to the Google Glass offices on the fifth floor of New York’s Chelsea Market, where a fancy hip Google Glass employee would hook you up. For me this was an interaction that consisted of saying, “Whoa! This is the future!” over and over again and accidentally turning the Glass off.
“This isn’t the future,” the lady introducing me to Glass said. “It’s the present.”
“I’m a cyborg now,” I said.
She laughed, warmly, like a cyborg wouldn’t, or maybe like a cyborg would if the cyborg were being sneaky about it. “No,” she said, “you’re a human being.”
I asked, out of curiosity, if these responses were coming from a canned list somewhere, and she insisted that she was only saying things that she honestly believed were great about this product.
Perhaps sensing my suspicion, Google Glass did not take to me at all. It ignored my requests. As far as instant obedience to your verbal commands, it’s like having a cat that you wear on your face. “Okay Glass,” you say, “Google — ” It shuts off. You get excited, talking at it in ALL CAPS, and it blinks at you unresponsively, flicking its tail at a sunbeam.
In the weeks since getting it, strangers have approached me in awe. “Is that Glass?”
“Is it cool?”
“What are some cool things you can do with it?” They looked at me, evidently hoping I was going to say something like “I CAN SHARE REAL-TIME VIDEO OF MYSELF SKYDIVING AND TAKE YOU INSIDE THE MAGIC AND BEHIND THE MUSIC.”
I paused, ruminative. “Well,” I said, “I’m really into sending weird emails.” I smiled.
They started to cross the street.
“I’m sure it’ll be great in, like, a year!” I yelled after them.
As an only child, I have spent most of my life walking down the street talking to myself and acting like a total weirdo, so I was well prepared for the experience of owning GoogleGlass. In order to activate it with your head, using the default settings, you have to do a 30 degree head-tilt. So you walk down the street looking like a headbanger arguing with a ghost. “Okay, Glass,” you say. “Dang it. Okay I have it this time. Okay, Glass.”
Your other option is to work it by tapping the side of your head with your finger, Professor X-style. This is great if your dream is to be Professor X, but makes social interaction weird, because you are just sitting there tapping the side of your face. Then again, this is the closest have ever come to reading what others are thinking: “Who is this weirdo, and how did she get GoogleGlass?”
It also keeps you on your toes. It’s like playing an improv game at all times. You have to know exactly what your next move is, or it’ll shut you off.
“Okay Glass. Cyborg. Wait. Dagnabbit.” “Dagnabbit,” I tell the Glass. It turns off. I am not sure what I was expecting it to do. Even humans don’t respond to “dagnabbit,” so why Glass should is beyond me.
I let one person try it at a bar, and he insisted it was “one of the best days of his life.” I hope not. His fiancee was there. Presumably the day they met was better? The day he proposed? It’s just a headband that lets you Google things.
No. Blasphemy. It’s The Future.
And nothing compares to my rabid, dogged devotion to The Future. I spend hours lurking outside middle schools demanding that the kids tell me the trends. I will not allow myself to slide slowly into the slough of nostalgia. I can sit around clicking through Buzzfeed Listicles of Why The 90s Were Better Than Any Prior Or Subsequent Decade when I’m DEAD! Now is the time to stay hip.
Is it everything I dreamed and more? Most of my dreams are nightmares about being called upon to use algebra in the real world, so this is better than that. But not much. It’s like carrying the Fandango lady around with you at all times. “Skynet,” you say. “Scott I knew it.”
Do I bump into things? Not more than I do walking around with a cell phone. Probably less.
Even when you get it to work, you wonder. Is this a Segway? Or is this an iPhone? Is it Google+, or is it Facebook? This isn’t the future, it’s the present, so it’s hard to say.
The worst thing about Google Glass so far is that it actually forces you to look up and talk to people. I thought we had agreed that this was a thing of the past.
Right now we’re in a peak era of text. You text your friends. You text your relatives. You text even if you can’t spell. You don’t talk. You gchat. But now Glass seems to want me to talk. Video chats, phone calls — I even have to talk to get it to transcribe my awful rambly emails. I thought we’d all agreed this was awkward and wrong. If this works as planned, we’re going to be interacting with actual humans more, not less. Are we sure we want this?
I don’t believe any of this is Google’s fault. They were doing the best they could, but I’m just not up to the task. It’s from the 2070s, and I’m a 90’s chick.
FreeDictionary.com, a site I have reached by manually typing it in on my computer, because Google Glass is being downright contumacious, informs me that “a cyborg is a person whose physiological functioning is enhanced by mechanical or electronic devices.”
Enhanced would be strong.