In a talk this week at the TED Conference, Google co-founder Sergey Brin casually stated that smartphones are "emasculating." (opens in new tab) He didn't fully elaborate on this point, leaving all of us in the lurch and wondering what the heck he was talking about.
He said something about rubbing an inanimate object all day. Speak for yourself, Sergey! There are all sorts of ways to interpret this comment, obviously. Apparently, rubbing something all day is emasculating, I guess.
The point he wants to make is that life will be better with Google Glass, which may as well come with a sweatshirt that says "Don't date me!" or a baseball cap that says "I'm a serious nerd, caution!" or a pin that says "Not married, obviously!"
I think the glasses are more emasculating than a smartphone, by far, and probably even more rubbing would ensue.
At some point, can we suggest that Google Glass is possibly a hoax? Is it for real? And if it is, will it catch on? It's hard to tell what is going on as Brin keeps pulling publicity stunts. The first stunt was "accidentally" running into Robert Scoble (opens in new tab), who fell all over himself because of the coincidence. Write-ups ensued.
The second was when someone, out of the blue, found Brin on a New York subway wearing the glasses (opens in new tab) and trying to supposedly blend in to the scene. I think this "emasculating" comment is yet another stunt.
If this doesn't reek of a grab for attention, nothing does. And while I'm sure Brin could take the subway, I can almost guarantee he uses a car service 99 per cent of the time.
So now we have this comment, which is more of an enigma than anything else. What does it mean? Are you less of a man if you use a smartphone in general? Or are you less of a man if you use a touchscreen smartphone over a BlackBerry with a keyboard? And what does this mean for women? Or is the phone essentially a woman's device?
And what does this mean for Motorola? Google owns Motorola.
When you read these articles, all sorts of commenters – who I can only assume are guys – agree with Brin, saying the smartphone is effeminate. How? Because it is too small? Perhaps that is why some men actually prefer the large Galaxy Note (opens in new tab) and other phablets (opens in new tab).
So to feel like a man, you must have a big one – a phone, that is. Is it that simple?
We have had heads-up devices for years. These were built for both TV watching and also as generalised computer displays. I still think I have a couple of these things in the archives. They are kind of cool, but at the end of the day, you have a headache. If that's the case, then a conversation like this might apply:
Wife: Honey, why aren't you wearing your heads-up Google Glass?
Husband: Not tonight, I have a headache.
Now what device can be more emasculating than that?