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Are smartphones ‘emasculating’? So says Google's co-founder no less

Sure, smartphones can be annoying – especially when you're trying to capture the attention of someone who is distracted by one. But emasculating?

That's how Google co-founder Sergey Brin describes them.

Speaking at a Technology, Education and Design (TED) conference in Los Angeles, Brin criticized how people spend their time hunched over their smartphones, according to The Telegraph. "Is this the way you're meant to interact with people?" he said. "It's kind of emasculating. Is this what you're meant to do with your body?"

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As the website TechRadar notes, these words seem harsh, considering that smartphones are the reason sales of Google's Android operating system dominate. But then, Brin made his remarks while trying to push Google's new gadget, Google Glass. Skeptics have been leery of the "smart" electronic spectacles since Google first announced the project in 2012. After all, the idea of wearing a computer on your face rates somewhere between Segway scooters and Bluetooth headsets on the nerd-o-meter. (Honestly, does this look scream "masculine" to you?)

Whether the market decides the futuristic glasses are more macho than smartphones remains to be seen. But debates about the apparent manliness of gadgets aside, Brin does make a good point about how smartphones can be used as a social shield for the shy and the awkward.

"I have a nervous tic," he said, according to The Telegraph. "The cellphone is a nervous habit – if I smoked, I'd probably smoke instead, it'd look cooler. But I whip this out and look as if I have something important to do. It really opened my eyes to how much of my life I spent secluding myself away in e-mail."

Indeed, Google Glass would likely be less isolating than a pocket-sized hand-held gadget. It's not as though you can hide at a party or business meeting when you've got Star Trek-like specs on your face. But then, maybe you'd want to.

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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