graphicpush

Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

I Hate BlackBerries

BlackBerries are part everyday business culture, yet their poor form factor and habit-forming use are leading to a workplace desperate for connectivity but forced into a tiny backlit window instead of meeting face-to-face. Also, they are pure, unfiltered evil.

Awhile ago, when my employer really started making significant financial strides, they rolled out a wide-scale corporate BlackBerry program. All management, sales folk, consultants, and other traveling entities were on the receiving end of these wretched little devices. Within a month, employees devolved into a Borg-like colony as they became more networked than a Counter-Strike LAN party, tethered to the mothership through 24/7 Lotus Notes and Sametime access.

I watched the office transmogrify from the normalcy of people politely stepping outside to take a call on their cellphone to a primitive hive of electro-dorks. Meetings became punctuated with a cacophonic merry-go-round of insipid ringtones and ceaseless vibrating. People IMed through their BlackBerries to co-workers across the room. People walked and typed and filed for workmen’s comp after running into walls. (Kidding.)

Productivity plummeted as everyone convinced themselves they were being more productive. This fog of collective hysteria has yet to lift.

BlackBerries Are the New Smoking

Just a short time ago, when people were standing around waiting, they lit a cigarrette to pass the time. Waiting for your soup at the diner? Light one. Standing on the corner waiting for friends? Puff another.

Today, the time-honored tradition of squandering five minutes with a cig is passé; instead, furiously thumb-fucking a keyboard not fit for a squirrel is what all the cool kids are doing. I’m pretty sure today’s firing squads are asking prisoners if they’d like to answer that one last e-mail before meeting their maker.

The social aspect of standing around and smoking with other nicotine addicts, catching a break and talking smack about bosses, is a wonderful facet of modern business. But now, the same circle of co-workers is buried in these clunky communicator bricks. Their eyeballs strain to read 3-point type on postage stamp display as they bowl under the pressure to respond to every call, e-mail, and instant message that crosses their desk — even if it’s total junk. Anything to retain the illusion of connectivity.

Cybernetic Hummingbirds

The dexterity and speed needed for the hands of a CrackBerry junky to withdraw and answer his device before the next ring even goes off is clearly foreshadowing human evolution. Nature will clearly choose those with the fastest response times. A million years from now, we’ll be nothing but cybernetic hummingbirds.

The form factor of a BlackBerry is appalling. It’s so awkward to hold, type, dial, or scroll that it seems the company is trying to piss their customers off. In fact, the only action in which it seems comfortable is gripping it with a full fist in preparation to toss it off the second-floor balcony.

The End of Everything

While I’m not a doomsday kind of guy, and I’m not prone to moan about unnecessary, co-dependent technology, the widespread prevalence of BlackBerries (and their sinister brethren) are a clear sign of the apocalypse. I mean, you might as well paint some lamb’s blood above your door and set out a plate of cookies for the four horsemen.

The social networks we build through face-to-face interaction are decomposing quickly at the expense of artificial IM-speak, relentless voice mail, and a stream of e-mail that has the intellectual value of Diet Coke. And all of this is streamed into our brain through the ever-present PDA, like an IV dripping morphine into a cancer patient.

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commentary + criticism

Shane

wrote the following on Monday October 15, 2007

Someone get this man a Valium! While I definitely understand your frustration, there’s no need for you to go and rip on the mother of all awesomeness in technology – the iPhone – by lumping it in with these inferior devices.

Shame on you.

beth

wrote the following on Monday October 15, 2007

It’s not just BlackBerries, it’s Treos, iPhones, and Sidekicks too. When I got my iPhone I laid out a few ground rules for myself.

1. I’d never use it during a meeting.
2. I’d never use it at dinner.
3. I’d never use it while having a conversation with someone.
4. I would never use it (or sparingly use it) at places like movie theatres, the grocery store, and public venues.
5. I don’t talk on the phone while in a store either, I think it’s rude.

Kevin

wrote the following on Monday October 15, 2007

Sorry, Shane, the iPhone is a just a dolled-up version of the same evil. If there’s one thing I do not drink, it’s the Apple Kool-Aid.

I kind of feel like Bill Joy after re-reading this.

Steve Lam

wrote the following on Tuesday October 16, 2007

I couldn’t put the utter worthlessness of these devices into better words myself.

Christian

wrote the following on Thursday October 18, 2007

This article made my day.

But don´t blame the Blackberry/iPhone/CommunicationGadgetXY for human affinity to addictive items.

The evil is not the device, it´s the minion using it. ;-)

bork

wrote the following on Tuesday October 30, 2007

What a breathe of fresh air! Walking around with your eyes buried in these things has become the new status symbol – “I’m wanted, why aren’t you? You are lower class scum with time to waste on petty things like talking to people and looking at nature.”

Cary

wrote the following on Wednesday October 31, 2007

Your rant was the same one posted when iPod started plugging peoples ears to the reality around them. And the same one posted, er, written to the editor of the local paper (remember those), when the mobile phone found itself filtering through society. It was the same rant when the automobile came puffing over the hill terrifying the horses and scattering the chickens. It was the same rant…you get the point. Like any new technology, it takes awhile to figure out protocol.

Voice, email, and instant message distraction has nothing to do with the device and everything to do with our seeming inability to focus our attention on the true and lasting. Senders need to learn that if they want an instant response they should show up and chat face to face. All other forms of communication will result in some form of delay, controlled by the receiver, who, hopefully, understands that there is a time and place for everything.

Until we do figure out the protocol, the first righteous person who never reads another text message during church, never answers, much less places a call, while driving and never answers an IM while they are deep into another two and half minute YouTube marathon is welcome to lead the therapy session for the rest of us attention deficits.

Dude

wrote the following on Saturday November 17, 2007

Hilarious rant and so true too.

Worst story: Graveside at a funeral, casket being lowered, everyone weeping… yup a real estate agent’s mobile phone rings and she answers it, talking really loud. Minister had said “phones off out of respect for the dearly departed” but fools feel above the social norm.

Who else has a worst example story?

kevin

wrote the following on Monday January 28, 2008

i was forced to get a BB for my new job (yes, as a consultant). i have to say my Curve is just a POS – reminds me of why PC’s are such garbage vs Macs…there is absolutely nothing intuitive about it, and quite frankly i don’t need every freakin’ email on the planet pushed to me instantly.

Anna

wrote the following on Friday April 18, 2008

Blackberries don’t connect people, the drive them apart.
‘Don’t send me too personal messages as my secretary has to read all my e-mail to keep my blackberry clear’
‘I don’t see most text messages as they just disappear in the email which I delete in bulk if I’ve been at my PC’
‘I’d love to make a date but I’m holding my diary to my ear and I’m driving, so I don’t know if the date’s OK’

Anono-man

wrote the following on Thursday May 22, 2008

My company just bought me a blackberry. I will never use it. I told them I will never use it. They still bought it and handed it to me.

I’ve managed global organizations for a few years now, and if I put myself in a position where it was necessary to contact me for anything ‘anytime, anywhere’ for my department to function, I have failed. My job is to make sure my organization can do its job, even if I were to be involved in a horrible car wreck initiated by someone frantically grabbing at their blackberry to read about savings on viagra.

Sure, certain professions really need this kind of technology – business development, navy seals. Let them enjoy the stress of the positions they have chosen for themselves, and leave us the hell out of it.

akimbo

wrote the following on Thursday July 3, 2008

My father is a very successful business man; a self-made millionaire, I can only hope to achieve half of what he has. He always tells me that the best way to deal with people is face-to-face. I never really bought that because I am a computer programmer by trade and love new gadgets. I was a blackberry addict for many years and clung to it for dear life in case I missed something super-important at work. Anyway, I noticed that I started losing my ability to speak to people in a polite manner. I had begun communicating orally in the same fashion as I would type a quick message to a buddy. Abbreviating my words instead of speaking in complete sentences became to disturbing to me. Also, ignoring or tuning out my loved ones because I was always looking at my device was upsetting to my wife especially.
I realized that this thing was controlling my every move and I hated it. I recently threw my blackberry device out and bought myself a regular cell phone. I felt like I had just been let out of prison. Anyway, ever since I blew my blackberry up in my old microwave (really cool); I noticed that my communication skills returned and now I am the CIO of my company. I guess my dad was right… making an effort to go and see people in an office or even calling them is way better than just pounding out a quick message. Now I offer the option to my employees whether or not they want to use a blackberry or not. Surprisingly, all of my nerds hang onto their bb devices.
What a bunch of nerds… oh wait… so am I

Mike

wrote the following on Wednesday July 22, 2009

Thank you! At least someone else realizes that responding to every e-mail in your inbox doesn’t make you productive, it just makes you get more e-mail to continue the worthless downward spiral. I have no idea how many times I’ve wanted to get up and walk out of a meeting when one of my co-workers decided that an assnine e-mail from someone trying to turf their work off on another was more important than the 10 people in the room. Just because you’re doing something, it doesn’t mean you’re accomplishing anything!

That was SOOOO Funny :D!

wrote the following on Friday February 19, 2010

I have read your article 2 or 3 times now, and every time, I just can not stop laughing, I swear. I find this so funny and so true. As a matter of fact, I am going to print it out and put it on my wall.

Thanks for the good laugh, and the true facts! (seriously)

BW

Royce

wrote the following on Thursday April 14, 2011

Im not a blackberry bitch!

“Wow guys! Im so kool, Im on top of the world now, i just got a blackberry.” Ok let me
rephrase that, “Wow guys Im rich & I suck donkey balls.”

Surely we know you got one & presuming that you bought it for the BBM cause thats the only
thing you know about. Most don’t even know what their blackberry does besides the bb
messenger. Ok got you it actually does nothing.

Its a stupid-shitty phone filled wit crappy features & to top it of its fucking expensive.

Ive seen most of u users dont really enjoy a party but will bbm & upload their status that
their in a happening party.

Still wondering how RIM dares to sell them like hot cakes.

I know most of you guys repent now but either u guys should be stoned to death(pun
intended) or were stoned while buying one.

Instead of picking up this dildo get yourself a musical instrument & learn it, make this a
musical place not a ping fart ping sound opera.

Im sure soon there will be a blackberry rehabilitaion centre for you addicts. So get up
before that time comes & toss your blackberry into a flowing gutter(no pun intended).
The purpose of this writeup is to discourage people from buying one because i dont think
the company deserves any more money.

Good Luck!