How Smart Watches Offend My Generation

I could not help but laugh while having drinks with a friend of mine yesterday. He kept looking at his watch, and before I understood why I was starting to get annoyed he said that he had an incoming call.

To people of my generation and above (not many of those left) looking at your watch frequently is a sign of impatience, and that you have somewhere you need, or would rather, be. For those sensitive to these non-verbal clues, it signals the end of a conversation, date, meeting, and so on, often resulting in stilted conversation and perhaps even resentment.

Ironically, if he had been looking at his phone that frequently, I would not have thought twice as I do the exact same thing myself. We are both busy, he the CEO / Founder of a successful security company, me an insecure addict of social media affirmation (please like this).

I have tried to figure out why I found this so amusing, but have not reach a conclusion yet, but seeing as this would be a very short blog otherwise, here are some thoughts:

  1. My laughter contained at least a hint of nostalgia, it’s clear that I was remembering a simpler time. And by ‘simple’ I mean utterly disconnected from anything not immediately in front of me. A time without mobile phones. A time when the ‘Like’ button was a smile on your friend’s face;
  2. My laughter also contained chagrin. I thought I was as up to speed with technology and innovation as anyone, but clearly my values and reactions to everything around me were formed in a time very different from this one. I now know that part of me will always stay there;
  3. Jealousy that I didn’t have one because I have not seen one I like, and I have the wrists of a 7 year old girl;
  4. Frustration that ALL of this can’t be replaced by a contact-lens-driven heads-up display;
  5. Several large Woodford Reserve bourbon and ginger ales.

I don’t think anyone can deny the enormous impact mobile devices (especially smart phones) have had on both work and personal interactions. And we mostly agree that because this change has been so profound in so remarkably short a period of time indicates that we are actually only at the beginning of bigger changes to come (Internet of Things for example). Where people differ is their reaction to it; from abject fear and utter rejection, to excitement and complete embracement. Most of us are somewhere in-between.

What I do know is that to reject this change is to be left behind, and to stick with traditional concepts of privacy will exclude you from the conveniences to come. I’m not judging this in a negative way, I’m sure you are perfectly happy to BE ‘left behind’, and to do things the ‘old way’ but I’m also saying that I will not be one of those, I’m too bloody lazy not to have as many things done for me automatically as possible.

I am also happy to accept the consequences, and I will likely be laughing all over again when it all goes horribly wrong! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “How Smart Watches Offend My Generation

  1. I have a Pebble and you might want to check them out as I too have the wrists of a child. My wife was the first to complain about my smartwatch and the fact that it really does make people, other than those under 30, feel that you’re being impatient. However, I have found it is imperative that smartwatch users: (1) give people a “heads up” that they ahve a smartwatch so that people understand, and (2) tune their watches to only respond to the most important things such as phone calls and text messages and nothing else.

  2. I hear you David. I realised a while ago that for all my
    ‘techie’ admiration of things like the Apple watch, I do find myself preferring my lovely (mechanical) IWC (along with still using a Filofax and owning a fountain pen). And I’m still not convinced I need a 3D television (or a 4K one or whatever is next) and the iPhone 6+ is just too damn big!

    I like the understated nature of my watch and the fact that very few will notice (and those that do will get it!). Despite my use of social media, I know that I am not that in touch and I’m sure my 19 and 12 year old nieces will laugh at me for still using Facebook (‘sooooo yesterday Uncle…’). I think there comes a time when you have to accept that unless you make a concerted effort your real life will diverge from your technical life (or the need to keep up and use the latest gadgets).

    I’m sure smart watches will prevail – I may at some point wear one, but not yet. I still think they look a bit naff (sorry Jeff – although Pebble is definitely the best of the current bunch)

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