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Buzzing? . . . Oh, I’m Just Shaving my IQ January 21, 2008

Posted by caveblogem in Blackberry, fiction, information management, literature, Management, Other, Science Fiction.
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I just got a new Blackberry last week. Lovely, sleek little device, and I must confess that I’ve always wanted one, even before they started actually making them. I wanted something that would let you type in text and store it and send it places, etc.

But what amazes me is that I can already see what they do to people a little more clearly. If you attend meetings with others who have these things you are already familiar with how distracting they are. Any time an email comes in, these people pull theirs out and look at it to see if the email is something important. My assumption was always something like the following:

What a jerk. They actually don’t know how insulting it is to constantly monitor some hand-held electronic device while somebody is talking about something that they consider important.

And I immediately draw the following conclusion: This person is stupid.

But I have revised my analysis a little, after getting one of these myself. You see, these people didn’t start out stupid. Actually it was the reverse (no, really, bear with me for a second.) They rise up in the company hierarchy because of their brains and other abilities. Then the organization decides that they need to have access to a constant stream of data, so that they can be more efficient. They must be constantly available for consultation. They are then given a Blackberry, or Treo, or other electronic device that does this sort of thing (even phones which are used for instant messaging, I suppose, although I know very few executives who would do this).

The stupidity creeps in at that point, the receipt of this handheld device. The experience of being outfitted with one of these things has, thus far, reminded me of a great story by the late Kurt Vonnegut, “Harrison Bergeron.” In this story the United States government makes everyone equal by imposing handicaps on the most able. So if you have really good vision, they give you blurry glasses, for example. Or if you are really strong, they make your clothing really heavy (although I have doubts about this one; the clothing would just make you increasingly stronger.) Finally, if you are very smart, the government makes you wear a radio-earphone thing that emits a loud, irritating buzzing noise every once and a while to break your concentration.

Which is where the Blackberry comes in, of course. These people started out relatively intelligent. But the constant interruptions handicapped them.

The thing was sitting on the counter buzzing away this morning while I was trying to help my son with his mathematics. My wife, just back from Peru, said “aren’t you going to check it?” That’s when it all came together for me. Math’s hard enough, without a Blackberry going off.

My capable IT person showed me how to shut the stupid thing off. So now I’m all set.

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Comments»

1. Trudi Topham - January 21, 2008

Off is the only state a Blackberry should be in. Save your brain before it’s too late!

2. caveblogem - January 22, 2008

Thanks, Trudi, for believing I still might have a brain to save. I discovered that there is a way to set the thing so that it won’t even bother you when there is incoming email. So I can just check it whenever I feel like it, which is a nice middle ground.

3. writinggb - January 22, 2008

Glad you got your secret wish, cave! I can understand the allure, but I already wish I were more unreachable!

4. Dalya - January 24, 2008

Wonderful blog you have here :D!
Awesome articles. I totally adore and admire your paper folding tutorials. They help me so much! Very useful because I don’t like having 50 receipts everywhere in my handbag.

Thank You.

5. caveblogem - January 25, 2008

Dalya,

You are quite welcome. And thank you for the kind words. Makes it all worthwhile.

6. Oscarandre - January 26, 2008

Your final act was so simple yet powerful. I don’t even carry my phone into meetings (I figure my PA knows where I am if there is an emergency and, of course, people can always leave messages). It would be somehow comforting if the government really could be held to account for people’s stupidity but I’m afraid its is largely self-driven and closely linked to vanity. :)

7. raincoaster - January 27, 2008

At least your crackberry doesn’t sign everything “sent from my trendy iThingy.” I’m thinking of signing all emails “sent from my Uranium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator.”

8. caveblogem - January 30, 2008

Thanks for the comment, oscarandre. I guess I am a true introvert. O.K., I know I am, but this confirms that which needs little confirmation–I never pull the stupid thing out unless I am alone. And those times it’s mostly to send messages.

9. caveblogem - January 30, 2008

raincoaster,

How can I get wunna them Explosive Space Modulators, then?

10. Stiletto - January 31, 2008

Congratulations! You have just dumbed youself down with the rest of us!

Seriously, though, there was a time when I could never understand the distractions of modern technology…until I bought a computer, and until I started text messaging.

Now I’m constantly engaged in sending correspondence over the phone, even if it is brief…I’ve even started texting and driving at the same time. Not good, I know!

11. Stiletto - January 31, 2008

“Off is the only state a Blackberry should be in. Save your brain before it’s too late!”

Not to mention your thumbs!
http://arthritis.webmd.com/news/20050126/blackberry-thumb-real-illness-just-dumb


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