Monday, December 2, 2013

An Introvert's Battle

       Wearing a computer on my face isn't exactly an effective way to blend into the masses. While I am not necessarily shy, particularly in front of forty squirming and flighty preteens, I naturally tend toward introversion, and a well-documented history with stage fright confirms that, at the very least, I do my best to avoid public attention. Yet, for my first outing with Glass, I brazenly chose to wear it to Disneyland.
            I suppose I was superficially conscious of the social repercussions of wearing Glass, and I knew that reactions could err in either direction. However, as soon as I entered the throngs at Disneyland, I suddenly became fully aware of the quantity and spectrum of responses that Glass would elicit: baffled looks, curious glances, awed gazes, morbid stares, double-takes.
            I walked through the crowds trying my best to project an aura of approachability and affability. I may not be a tech wiz, but I am an ambassador for Glass by being interfacing with the public. With great respect for that responsibility, I want people to associate Glass with friendliness and, to be honest, a sense of normalcy, as if this device could easily be used by anyone. Admittedly, stomaching those first ten minutes of public attention require a good deal of fortitude and resiliency, lest I be intimidated by mere looks.
            I purposely planned my Glass experience to coincide with regular Saturday swing dancing event so that, at the very least, Glass time could blend with the normal course of my day. It just so happens that this dance event is held inside Disneyland. I left an hour earlier than usual in order to get used to wearing Glass out in public. Why not experiment with trial by fire?
            In the hustle and bustle of the park, most people did not confront me about Glass. Outside a curious glance, people seemed content to curiously gawk, so I usually returned a friendly smile and kept walking.
            If only that could be said for my first verbal interaction regarding Glass. As I rested on a bench inside the park, two men walking by did a double take and whirled around. I summoned courage for my first Glass dialogue with a genuine smile, but before I could so much as utter a greeting, they began spewing acrimony.
            "Glass is evil!"
            "Demon woman!"
            "Apple is better!"
            Now, this is not a commentary on Apple aficionados. Idiots come from all backgrounds. I was so startled that I fortunately couldn't manage a response and reveal my snarky side, which would run contrary to my goal of positive public interfacing with Glass. This apparently atypically hostile  confrontation did, however, put me through trial by fire, and instead of withdrawing into the introverted side of me, I kept on Glass and continued my tour through the park.
            The rest of the night I experienced only baffled or positive reactions to Glass; however, no one else verbally acknowledged the device. Perhaps it was the pedestrian nature of my observers that prevented direct interactions; however, I wanted more than just notice - I wanted to dialogue about Glass.
            The next day, my mom and I went for a hike, and, to respect the boundaries of a technophobic parent, I left Glass at home. When I mentioned needing to buy a new computer charger, she acted uncharacteristically interested in my intended outing.
            "Are you going to Best Buy after you eat lunch?" she asked.
            "Can I go?"
            "What? You don't like running errands with me."
            "I want to go. You should wear Glass."
            Ah! There it was. Her curiosity must have been stronger than her tech aversion, because, before that, she wanted little to do with Glass (or technology in general). In this case, she could be an observer and directly interface with Glass. I hadn't planned on wearing it to the store, but curiosity won me over as well - how will people "in the know" with technology respond to Glass?
            The tech geeks at Best Buy didn't disappoint. (Trust me, tech geek is a compliment of the highest order from me. The one and only solution to technology problems is to turn off the device and then turn it back on.) Mostly, they whispered, stared, and gawked. However, a brave and vocal minority approached me and asked about Glass. Two asked to take a photo with me, which were then posted to social media, and one even asked to have his photo taken by Glass. A middle-aged printer rep was the bravest of the bunch and spoke with me for a solid fifteen minutes about the marvels of modern technology.

            Warm and genuine interactions like the ones I experienced at Best Buy reaffirm my decision to become an Explorer. I am the average person acting as an ambassador for a high-tech gadget that has been, to this point, associated exclusively with the tech crowd. In addition to Glass being a rare sighting in general, seeing an regular, non-tech individual with Glass makes a statement about the device's image. I may be, as a group of Best Buy employees stated, "the cute blonde with Glass" or "an evil woman with a devil device", according to the bozos at Disneyland. Either way, for someone like me, it's as much about the social experience as it is about actually integrating Glass into my daily life. Additionally, until Glass becomes widely available, wearing it forces me out of my comfort zone, and I get to live the introvert-turned-extrovert fairytale for a short while.

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely written article. I wore mine to the mall for the first time today and was terribly stressed for the first 20-30 minutes. I'm not shy, but seeing people watching me or pointing at me was something I struggled with. I'm getting better, and the positive interactions I have had with people make me want to continue wearing them.

    I'm really glad to see an article that sums up my feelings on the subject. It is a very unique position to be in, and one that I am hope to continue to grow into.