Resisting the Blackberry

One thing I’ve consistently resisted is getting a Blackberry or other such device for managing email when I’m on the road or generally out and about.

The major part of my self-justification is that I really do not wish to be like the many others I see at train stations, airports, coffee shops and other places who are enslaved to their email no matter where they are.

You know the picture. Someone peering at a small device with their fingers and thumbs flying about as they scroll their messages and tap out their texts.

What’s even worse is when you’re in a group of people and one or more of them is doing their email on their Blackberry in the middle of a conversation. Rude, to say the least. Just as bad as when you’re talking to someone and their mobile phone rings, they just go ahead and answer it.

Email may well be an essential element in our daily business and personal lives, but I don’t plan to become addicted to a crackberry, er, Blackberry nor develop a ‘Blackberry thumb’ (I’ll more likely develop a ‘Nokia thumb’ because of rapid SMS texting).

Choosing when and where I use email – perhaps better expressed as when and where not to – is one of the few ways I can keep my sanity about it all.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. John

    Interesting opinon and agreed that people need to respect basic rules of politeness. On the other hand, the author should understand that society is changing and always has. I am sure he agrees that sending email is more ‘human’ than writing letters, using pigeons or smoke signals…

    Also be aware that the younger generation is very excited about the ability to stay in touch with many friends, co-workers and relatives wherever they are over the world. I do not feel insane about this, despite processing 200 emails, numerous chat conversations and updating my blogs every day… An my thumbs still work well after 5 years of BB usage. I am 40 by the way…

    Last but not least, don’t blame BlackBerry for this because they had an idea that has changed the world… soon all vendors have adopted the model and the end result will be a more transparant, highly mobile better comunicating world bringing, hopefully, the best initiatives of this world together to make it a better place to live. So: think positive ;-)


  2. Rob Safuto

    Resist Neville resist! I too have held back on getting a Blackberry for those reasons you mention. I don’t see being accessible all the time as a convenience. I see it as an annoyance.

    Now I do understand that some folks have to do what they’re told. And many companies are handing out those berries so that they can get to their employees, or the customers can get to their employees, almost anywhere.

    I also must admit that I am accessible when I’m on the move since I’ve started using the Mobile Gmail client on my Nokia 6620 phone. But you’ll never see me checking my email on my phone during an important meeting or presentation. I’m never really sure why many Blackberry users thing its acceptable to check their email while someone is speaking or demoing a product.

    Perhaps my habits would change if I bought a Blackberry. That’s why I have no plans to get one.

  3. Heidi Miller

    Isn’t it odd what people prioritize as a “real” conversation? As in, I’m talking to you in person, but answering this phone call takes priority. Or I’ll be IMing someone online, and someone will interrupt me as if I’m not already involved in a conversation.

    And I’m with you–you know I’m on this I-spend-too-much-time-online-and-I-need-to-see-real-people-more kick, so no Crackberry for me!

  4. neville

    I’m all for change, John, and do understand quite well the trends that influence and inform us. My view isn’t about resistance to things nor a Luddite approach to technology. Far from it – you should see the collection of PDAs and mobile phones I still have that I’ve used from time to time over the years!

    No, this is to do with my own choices as to how and when I allow others to intrude into my daily life, whether it’s to do with business or personal matters. It’s a lot to do with control, in fact. There’s so much you have to cede control over these days that being in charge of your own accessibility is one small victory for sanity.

    Rob, you sum it up extremely well. I also use my mobile phone to access my Gmail account when I want to. That’s not often, but I have the choice.

    Yes, Heidi – no crackberry!

  5. Dave

    I too use my mobile phone for my Gmail, which is pretty handy when I need it. Hopefully the new Gmail client will work in the UK, as well. Must look at the mobile Google Reader too – though that could end up in me having some hefty phone bills!

    In fact, I use my mobile for pretty much everything. Just downloading the latest FIR onto it, and have managed to get some cool videos running on it too. Who needs a video ipod? The camera is good enough for quick snapshots too, at 2 megapixels.

    My one bugbear with it, though, is that the calendar is so lame. It’s a Sony Ericcson one, and it seems to have the same calendar that my first SE phone did, back in 2002. Now, if they could get that to sync with Google calendar…

  6. Lydia Mallison-Jones

    I agree in some respects only. I am a blackberry owner and it has transformed my life for the better.
    It is the centralisation of information that has been life changing for me.
    I do not answer the phone when I am with others, you’re right, that’s downright rude, valuing an unkown caller before the person in front of you is not on.
    I would however answer if I knew that it could be the baby sitter in the evening or the school in the day etc. Children are a high priority.
    Straddling business and motherhood, I find it very useful to have my one calendar in outlook, it syncs with my husbands, and I put everything in it, from a team meeting for work to the recorder that Naomi has to take to school on a Thursday. All my contacts are in the same place too, and any correspondence from personal to business come into the same place. I even use it to put the shopping list on in the notes section, I can go round the supermarket knowing that I won’t forget anything critical like wet wipes or toothpaste. So thumbs up for me. However if you were to use it soley for business, it could become all consuming, and it has been known to be a hated object whilst on holiday!

  7. Allan Jenkins

    Turn away from the light! Resist the light!

    As you point out, it’s not the technology that’s the problem, but the lack of etiquette in using it. When I am with friends or colleagues whose phones ring, I make a mental bet: Will they say ‘excuse me while I take this’ or ‘excuse me while I turn this off.’ I must say I have dear friends who still say the former — we should forgive a lot in old friends — but I sure as hell have no vendors who say it.

    Accessibility is the point. When I agree to meet you, I’ve agreed to give you the most personal access: face to face. Whipping out the Blackberry (or the mobile phone) simply cheapens that access.

  8. neville

    Well said, Allan.

    Lydia, all you say makes complete sense. But for me, I prefer not to be connected with emails, calendars, contacts, etc, wherever I am. If I’m out and about, I want to manage periods of time without any of that.

    I usually have my phone with me so if anyone needs to reach me (and vice versa) it’s just a phone call away.

  9. To Belgium and back at

    […] Anyway, I just need to cross-post the shownotes for FIR #223 – recorded in the wee hours of this morning – and then I’m off. I won’t be picking up email again until tonight and probably not with any reliability before Saturday, but I will have my mobile phone on (no, I don’t have a Blackberry). […]

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