Is Communication a Lost Art?

So how far away are we from planet Earth morphing into Holodeck 5 and we all have Geordi La Forge glasses? There are several pairs of augmented reality glasses already on the market, many from brands you’ve probably never heard of, but then I’m sure you have heard of Google and their latest project in the foray.

No longer information at your fingertips, oh no, information at your eyelashes. And much more than information, as some researchers and visionaries have conjured up all sorts of ways to use these glasses. From finding directions to a new coffeehouse, online dating, downloading music, answering a phone call, no need for a handheld device.

Some have taken it a step further. Dr. Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City University of New York, seems to believe these glasses will forever change the way we interact with the world. He speaks about when you walk into a crowded room, say for a networking event where you are looking to land a new job. Your glasses will steer you who to speak with in that industry. A big red arrow will point them out to you. But in your glasses, their entire biography is laid out before your eyes. Where they went to school, how many brothers and sisters they have, the name of their dog – you have all this information. Likewise, someone wearing these glasses would have all this information about you. What questions will you ask? What would be left to discover about the people you meet at this event? What is their left to converse about? Oh right, work. You can talk about work.

The art of conversation involves the asking of questions. Wouldn’t these reality glasses just negate the need to speak with anyone? Is technology reducing our social ability to communicate with the spoken language? Is it in fact devolving our language? Or are we evolving and becoming more efficient that we no longer require the use of our vocal chords? Getting a bit far out there.

Social media has connected us, we keep “in touch” more with friends and family perhaps, but do we know how to strike up a conversation and then carry it on? Look at the socially awkward teenagers? Ever notice how often a 13-year old says “like” as they are describing something? And not even a 13-year-old, it seems adults have a hard time forming complete thoughts and must “like”, connect, “like” those random thoughts “like” together.

One positive aspect of augmented reality glasses, if everyone is wearing them, might best be suited for women navigating the dating scene, especially in New York City. It would speed up the process of natural selection in finding a mate. Picture it, a crowded posh nightclub; Allison sees a bogey at 10 o’clock in her glasses. He looks appealing, named Adam. Income $200K plus registers in her right field of vision, likes Prince, all good so far, wait, what’s this? Two kids and going through divorce… Allison is not looking for all that baggage. She moves on to… hello, John.

But maybe you would be able to block certain information. Surely you wouldn’t want to go around broadcasting a criminal history if you had one. Or you cheated on your SATs, which allowed you to get into Harvard? No one needs to know about that, right? Could you restrict which information displays in your bio by deactivating it with your voice?

We have GPS on our smart phones and in our cars, do we really need these glasses on our forehead? What if you already wear glasses? Will you have to go to the optometrist for a special fitting? Would insurance cover these glasses, and could you opt for contact lenses instead?

We have enough trouble tuning into our friends and families as it is anyhow. And let’s be honest, us humans have an incredibly difficult time multitasking with technology – accidents, we can only speculate would surely increase, whether walking, jogging, or goodness sakes, driving. More laws, more insurance, more legal mess. Am I being too pessimistic? Is this a technology that we really need to “simplify” our lives? Perhaps I am too old-fashioned in thinking that society is best founded on the principles of communication that allow for a dialogue exchange of ideas for debate and discussion in an open arena between humans face to face? Hmmm, maybe grunts and groans could be better.