The folks at Google Glass put together a Valentine's Day video showing the Glass-eye view of five couples' marriage proposals. It's cute. It's heart-warming. It's the worst.
I know what you're thinking. "Oh yawn, another angry anti-romance blog post from some nasty internet misanthrope who's still stewing over another Valentine's Day spent watching House of Cards alone." Shut up. This isn't about me.
Truth be told, I'm a sucker for romantic mushiness. Watching people's unfiltered reactions to The Big Question is sublimely life-affirming, even when viewed through the hovering not-quite-eye-to-eye of Glass. The mood goes from puzzled to shocked to overwhelmed to relieved to blissful in the time it takes most of us to tie our shoes. There's an unrehearsed genuineness that you hardly see in any other moment of a person's life. It reminds grumps like me that there actually is love out there in the world.
That reaction is the only unfiltered part of a marriage proposal. Everything else is rehearsed, planned out, painstakingly considered, orchestrated among a group of people that can be clandestinely small or shockingly large. And that's where Glass becomes a problem. It takes the most intimate moment of any proposal, no matter how large or small, and records it at a level of detail that not even the nearest onlooker could absorb.
Nothing kills unguarded spontaneity like the threat of being recorded.
Proposals-as-spectacle are not Glass's fault. Cloying, choreographed knee-taking is probably just as old as the tradition of marriage itself. We can't blame Google's noggin smartphone for people's habit of wanting to make a scene.
The problem is, Glass makes any proposal into a digital flashmob, whether the real-life audience is hundreds of restaurant patrons or a secluded stand of trees. Now, even the most private, joyful moment of a couple's journey together becomes sharable content, without even the courtesy warning of a beaming waiter or a wedding photographer jumping out from behind a park bench.
And don't tell me there's a smartphone equivalent to this. Anyone out there who popped the question holding a velvet box in one hand and a phone in the other is too pitifully self-aware to be subjected to a blogger's scorn.
That's the thing here: using your smartphone to record your fiancée's reaction is an act so wilfully peculiar it wouldn't ever cross most people's minds. With Glass, though, nothing ever really has to cross your mind. It makes recording one's every moment of life feel normal — as normal as wearing a face-computer can possibly feel.
If that's your thing, good for you. Mazel tov. And I really do sincerely wish the best to the couples whose proposals we got to see through Glass. I don't even blame them: a Glass proposal is a fun novelty in a world where just about every other form of proposal has been done. Just because I wouldn't do it doesn't mean you shouldn't. Usually the opposite, as a matter of fact.
But if you're romantically involved with a Glass wearer, you better start working on your surprised face and your beaming "yes!" Because untagging yourself in your proposal video will probably become a major social media faux pas. [H/T Recode]