Knowing a few Blackberry addicts, I appreciated this editorial from the NY Times today.
Bless the Blackout
- Published: April 21, 2007
Some five million of the eight million BlackBerry subscribers were forced to take stock of their (over)reliance on the little mobile devices earlier this week when a large chunk of the wireless e-mail system unexpectedly went down. At least one highly interested group of people could be forgiven for sudden bouts of schadenfreude: the significant others of these BlackBerry dependents who find it nearly impossible to carry on a conversation without having to endure the distracted downward glances and covert typing that say, “My interest lies elsewhere.”
The addictive quality of BlackBerry messages is well documented. Users call them CrackBerrys as a kind of homage to the addictive quality of the service. One user told The Times that it was harder to quit than smoking, while another spoke of feeling “phantom vibrations” — like twinges from a missing limb — even when he wasn’t carrying his.
Somewhat less attention has been given to the innocent bystanders: the spouses, friends and lovers whose evenings and weekends have been ruined by the buzz, the ring or the blinking light. The pull is so strong that it can wipe away all courtesy in a flash. Both the usefulness and the persistence of the devices are by now undeniable. Only the need to check them constantly in the most churlish manner possible is now under debate.
As the rules of the road are negotiated (an hourly limit of three checks may be ideal but a simple “excuse me” once in a while may have to do), BlackBerry co-dependents could enjoy a rueful laugh at the suddenly severed tether. A glitch accomplished temporarily what some had, in their darkest moments, considered effecting with a hammer.