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.
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.