Don’t be a jerk: Avoid the smartwatch

Blue Link Smartwatch

Pep Rosenfeld is co-founder of comedy theater Boom Chicago and Boom Chicago Creative in Amsterdam. He loves both nerd chic and chic nerds, and can be seen hosting events where they meet — like #TNW2015.


Twenty years ago, I bumped into a friend on the L in Chicago. At some point, he pulled out a pocket watch, fob and all, checked the time, replaced the watch, and went back to our conversation. I thought I was the eccentric of the two of us, but his pocket watch made me feel positively suburban.

He said he used to hate his relationship with his wristwatch. One part stressed out by its constant reminder of the time, one part addicted to checking to see if he was late.

It was just always there, on his wrist, like a chrono-Big Brother, constantly watching him. As a fellow wristwatch lover/hater, I thought maybe I would get a pocket watch too.

But then suddenly everyone had a watch in their pocket, a watch made by Nokia that also made calls and played an awesome game of Snake. I stopped wearing a wristwatch, and have felt more free and at peace ever since. So I will obviously not be getting a Moto 360 in the near future (having not drunk the iOS Kool-Aid, the Apple Watch was never an option.)

But I don’t want you to get a smartwatch either.

I’m not worried about your stress levels or your constant neurotic fear of being late. Because those are my problems, not yours. I just don’t want you to become – no offense – more of a jerk than you already might be.

Admit it. You check your phone too often. You do it when you’re at dinner with your girlfriend, you do it during meetings, and you do it while your kids are talking to you.

And if you do it while your kids are explaining why Skylanders Swap Force is better than Skylanders Giants, no biggie. But if you do it while they’re telling you their dreams and aspirations, you’re being a jerk.

matt ruby family tree

Dude, it’s rude. And we all know it’s rude, and we all want to do it less. But we also want to drink less and go to the gym more and stop staying up late binge watching ‘The Walking Dead.’ It’s hard to always do what we want to do.

I am no Luddite. I love technology. But if you buy a smart watch, you are paying a few hundred dollars to make it harder to not be a jerk. It would be like a recovering drug addict strapping a bag of coke onto his wrist. How will you possible not constantly glance down at that thing when it’s right there staring you in the face?

It won’t be just the time, but also messages, email, Google Now alerts and whether your dragons in Dragonvale need attention. Real conversation will take another step toward being just another thing we’re kinda sorta multi-doing.

Back in the days of wristwatches, I had a secret strategy for checking the time while with someone. I would check their wristwatch instead of my own. It was great. They never knew what I was doing, and I knew if I was about to run late for my next appointment.

And why did I do that? Because everyone knows you look like an ass when you check your watch while someone is talking! 

Don’t buy a smartwatch. Don’t not do it for you; you should not do it for the people you love. You already have a smart pocket watch. It’s called your phone. Just get yourself an iFob, and you’re set.

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