My Blackberry and Me

My addiction. It's a Blackberry Curve 8310.

My wife must have been feeling somewhat sheepish the other day. As evidence of this, I offer an email she sent to me after I arranged to have roses sent to her office for our wedding anniversary.

Do you want your phone back?” she wrote after telling me how pleased and surprised she was, especially since we had agreed not to get each other gifts, not even a card.  I reneged on that pledge.  She didn’t.  I scored points.

Yes, please,” I wrote back.  “I can’t stand it anymore!”

I didn’t mean for the floral arrangement to be a passive-aggressive means to an end but it did open the door.  And, when I stepped through, I found myself right back where I was a few months ago.  My Blackberry had been calling to me. Its ring tone, especially intense these past few weeks, was just too sweet to ignore.

Back in September, I tried to give up my Blackberry in a fit of fiscal responsibility. I traded it in for a regular cell phone because I thought it would be easier on my wallet. But Blackberries are insidious devices. They suck you in when you’re not looking. Before you know it, you’re totally dependent on them. It’s a lot like being a slave to cigarettes. But the truly shocking thing is, unlike a smoking habit, you don’t even know you’re an addict until you try to go cold turkey. Maybe the government should require warning labels on Blackberry boxes, too.

Just do a web search for “Blackberry Addiction” and you’ll see what I mean. One of the things that will come up is a study conducted by Rutgers University back in 2006. It claims that being addicted to a Blackberry is much like being addicted to drugs – lending credence to the device’s “Crackberry” nickname. You might not be able to light up a Blackberry like a crack pipe but once it gets its apps into you, its addictive powers are just as intense.

I started down my Blackberry’s digital slope two years ago this Christmas. My wife unwittingly gave it to me as a present. Little did she know what would happen. Except for my recently failed attempt to kick the habit, I’ve been in its thrall ever since.

I like the way it feels in my hands as I’m typing messages on the teeny tiny keyboard. I thrill when it vibrates to tell me I’ve received a reply. I love to scroll up and down the screen with the little trackball. I hardly ever miss appointments anymore because it effortlessly syncs with my online calendar. It tells me when and where my son’s soccer games are, when I should take my daughter to dance lessons and where my wife is likely to be at any given moment. Plus, I’m able to put audiobooks on it, making the long commute to my job in Washington, D.C. much less monotonous. It warms my pocket everywhere I go.

For the longest time I viewed my Blackberry as just a simple cell phone. But it’s so much more than that now. Those two months I spent without it resulted in me being a disorganized shell of the uber-organized dad I once was (okay, I wasn’t really THAT uber-organized but there was a marked improvement). I fell asleep thinking about it, I dreamed about it and spent my waking hours shaking with frustration at the limitations of my trade-in cell phone (the tremors might have been withdrawal symptoms. I’m not sure).

Now that I’m toking the Blackberry pipe again, I feel like I know how the hobbit Frodo must have felt in the “Lord of the Rings.” The euphoria of the “The One Ring” ended up weighing him down and nearly killing him before its evil was ultimately destroyed in the searing fires of Mordor’s Mount Doom.

They say the road to recovery starts with admitting you’re an addict. Well, here I am. But don’t ask me to go on a great quest to destroy my Blackberry. I’m just not ready to give it up yet. It’s my precious.

Perhaps I should commit myself to this institution.

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