My Blackberry and Me

Published today in the Martinsburg Journal.  It’s a reworking of my original “My Blackberry and Me” post.  I wanted it to reflect the coming new year.

Now that another year is wrapping up, I’ve begun thinking about what I want to accomplish in the one that’s about to begin.

Being a better husband and father is always at the top of my list of New Year resolutions. So is getting ahead at work.

I’ll also probably join countless others in resolving to shed a few holiday pounds. It’s not like I don’t have the tools at my disposal to do that. Despite my attempts to ignore it, I’m well aware of the treadmill we have in our basement. I could also pledge to take my bicycle out for a spin once in a while.

Time will tell how well I do. But if my attempt to give up my Blackberry smart phone earlier this year is any indication, a pledge to get in better shape is about as doable as asking my 12-year-old son to lay off the video games.

I tried to rid myself of my Blackberry back in September. I traded it in for a regular cell phone because I thought it would be easier on my wallet. But Blackberries 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. However, 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 comes 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 nearly as hard to shake.

I started down my Blackberry’s digital slope two years ago this Christmas. My wife unwittingly gave it to me as a present. Except for my 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. The 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 even my wife will admit 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).

They say the road to recovery starts with admitting you’re an addict. Well, here I am. But don’t ask me to resolve to put my Blackberry aside in 2011. I’m clearly not ready to give it up yet.

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