July 24, 2012
Bzz. Bzz. Buzz. I hear a BlackBerry vibrating at another table in the coffee shop and I know it might be the last time I hear that distinct sound. With Blackberry maker Research In Motion posting $518 million-dollar losses for the first quarter of 2012, dropping to 11 percent of the smart phone market from 42 percent two years ago, the device might become extinct soon.
And yet, it made me who I am today.
Before I got my BlackBerry in 2001 I was a really big loser.
I didn’t know I was a loser, though. None of us without smartphones did, going to our jobs, going out for drinks, then going home for another boring day.
But after I got my BlackBerry, I found I was needed all hours of the day. Bzzzzzzz my BlackBerry would vibrate, shaking my desk, my dinner table, my bathtub edge, my night table. You are needed. You are wanted, You are important, it said.
After I got my BlackBerry, my social life started buzzing too. “Do you want to go to that naked underwater midnight Burning Man party?” one friend texted me. “You have 300 new messages on Match.com,” Bzzed my phone email. After I got my BlackBerry, I felt popular! People were emailing me. They were texting me. (And back then, they were even calling me.) I was interesting.
Everything was more interesting with the Crack. I didn’t feel like stabbing myself to death with my Cross pen during staff meetings anymore. Awful blind dates didn’t put me into a murderous rage either (“How could she fix me up with him!), because I could sneak into the bathroom and vent constant updates to my friends. Except for that time that I texted my date instead of my friend about how bald the guy was – and not in a good bald kind of way.
Even banal drinks with girlfriends took on a heightened level of excitement with Crack because I now knew my time with them was limited, and therefore, precious. My device told me I had somewhere to be. Somewhere better. Or at least promising to be better until the next offer showed up on my screen.
The Crack taught me how multitask: how to text with my nose when getting a manicure, how to shush the checkout lady when she interrupted my phone conversations (sure, I already knew how to do that with a regular phone, but having the supreme business phone gave me the confidence to show her how important I was.)
Of course, some people got a little persnickety. Friends said – and I’m paraphrasing here because I wasn’t fully listening - “You’re constantly texting,” and “You never paying any attention to me,” and “You’re addicted to your phone!”
BlackBerry! I wanted to correct them, not phone. But then I took pity on them for their vibrationless, solitary lives, not interconnected to the world as I was.
Could I help it if people were no longer as interesting as they once were? It wasn’t my fault if my girlfriends whined about the same silly guy problems. “Could you believe that he says to her that I –” ZAP! My Crack was a remote control on life: I changed channels on reality, looking at the latest text, email and then the web.
That’s when I noticed something was missing between me and my Crack. Yes, of course it was love, but I’d begun to start looking around. The buzzing of texting and emails wasn’t giving me the same dopamine high, the rush of chemicals I used to feel every time I put my arms around the Crack. I was beginning to think I needed something more. I needed some content.
I needed to see videos of cats pushing rolls of string, to learn instantly about Celebrities with Cellulite, to hear from random people I’d just met asking to be my friend on Facebook, a site that I would, in the near future, fall as madly, crazily in love with as I had with my BlackBerry. I needed something would listen to me, understand me, hear my commanding voice saying, “call mom.” (“Did you say, ‘Send a Video to Tom?’”)
And so, I’m ashamed to admit, that I - like millions of others backstabbing betrayers - traded in my first love for a younger model. My new Droid only needed a light touch to send a text, an email, even find a place for us to go to dinner. None of that archaic pressing keys to give me carpal tunnel. Yes, I gave up the Crack. We all did.
But before the BlackBerry goes to the great technological heaven in the sky, to rot next to CDs, floppy disks and VCRs, I want to remember it for all it has given me: my three-minute attention span, my ability to tune out of any conversation, my suspicion that there’s always something else going on that’s better than what I’m doing and who I’m with.
Sometime in the very near future there will be no BlackBerries at all. I will probably own a smartphone that has a camera, video, a jetpack and a coffeemaker, but no matter. Whenever I hear a little electronic vibration, a little Bzzz, I’ll remember my Crack fondly, and know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.
Amy Klein is a New York-based writer. Her website is www.kleinslines.com.