by Pierre Le Roux
Finally I am the proud owner of a brand spanking new BlackBerry. Once more technology has found a new way to infiltrate my human existence and suck me further into the scripts, codes, numbers and programs of the virtual oblivion that is technology. Technology is advancing at lightning speed and new tools are being developed everyday all to help make our lives easier. Technology are also becoming more and more integrated into our lives and instead of making life simpler, in many respects, it’s making it more complicated. This led me to wonder, are we becoming unwittingly addicted to technology and its by-products
We live in the information age where with the touch a button we can share our inner most thoughts with thousands of people, check up on what our friends and family are doing, keep abreast on current events or even learn how to make an atomic bomb, if you’re into that kind of thing. Now we can do all of this anywhere, anytime and as often as we like. Technology has made the world smaller, people smarter and information more accessible. But technology also has a flip side – as much as it has landed the world at our finger tips it has also made us more accessible to the world. And frankly, I am finding this exhausting and my BlackBerry is making matters worse!
You see there was a time when I had to be in front of my laptop or my PC to share my mind meanderings with the world, learn about the state of the gay planet and fan my flames of fagotry, but not anymore. Now the world lives inside my BlackBerry! The world follows me around, knows where I am, knows what I am doing and knows what I am thinking. The world is staking me and is insistent on updating me twenty four hours of the day, seven days a week and 365 days of the year. Whether I am in the bathroom making a number two, having sexy time with my husband or naked sun bathing my e-mails will reach me, strangers will poke me and CNN will Tweet me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I will never miss a single thing. My trusty BlackBerry is sure to update me when Lindsay Lohan has her inevitable relapse, when my friends shocks the world by changing their Facebook relationships status from married to single and when Twitter wants me to know that Vigharthur from Iceland mentioned me in one of his titanic rants. Sure I can turn off these updates if they irritate me, sure I can switch my phone to bedside mode, sure I can cancel my Facebook and Twitter feeds, but I don’t because BlackBerry is evil!
When I do switch off my updates something terrible happens – I end up missing them! The absence of the chimes followed by the red flickering light indicating I have an update leaves me feeling desolate. It feels like the world has forgotten me. I know this must sound pretty pathetic, and it probably is, but the allure to be connected is a wicket curse perpetuated by my natural curiosity, and this frailty of mine is fully exploited by my obnoxious mini portal to the universe that is my phone. So, is this a curse, will my little minicomputer communicator consume my soul, destroy my actual social skills and render me void of free will?
There are many BlackBerry owners, some I know personally, whose social skills have suffered since they acquired their handheld windows to the world. They are unable to make eye contact during conversations as their eyes are firmly fixed on their phone’s screens, they are incapable of completing full sentences as they are constantly distracted, and if the date and time of an appointment is not loaded on their calendars or IM’d, Blue Toothed, SMS’d, MMS’d or E-mailed the appointment simply doesn’t exist. Some people’s entire life is loaded to their phones and the day a fatal system error occurs and the phone and SIM memory fails the world comes crumbling down, along with a complete and total shutdown of that person’s central nervous system upon the realization that their phone was last backed up more than a week ago.
And then there is BlackBerry Messenger, another “social” network devoted entirely to the BlackBerry elite, the people that shirked off IPhone. As if Facebook, MySpace and Twitter aren’t enough now there’s another network to divide your attention and some people spent every free moment chatting, or rather typing on it. It’s only a matter of time before they actually incorporate OMG, LMAO, LOL and WTF into an actual face-to-face conversation. Luckily I am not quite that far gone yet, but I fear I might be closer to the point of no return than I thought.
I’m teetering on the precipice of the matrix of avatars, profiles, screen names and Internet handles. My BlackBerry is gently coaxing me down a high-speed broadband path to complete and total connectivity, a virtual world that never sleeps, a world that’s constantly busy changing and a virtual world that doesn’t shut the fuck up! No one person is meant to be this up to speed with everything and nothing all at the same time. Information overload will one day kill us all unless we can stand up and say “Hi my name is Pierre and I refuse to be a techno addict!”
With all said and done, I still love my BlackBerry but I am aware of its potential dangers. After all it comes with a manufacturing warning that reads “If you’re BlackBerry causes you any physical discomfort, please refrain from using it for a couple of hours”. Technology is changing the way we live, communicate, make friends, connect and work. It is making our lives easier, but we can easily over complicate our own lives with our useful, over used and shiny gadgets and once you cross that virtual line you will become a techno addict – an addict whose drug of choice is mostly useless information and whose quick fix is an e-mail. The Betty Ford Clinic currently has no rehabilitation programs for this kind of addiction, so user beware! Don’t become a techno addict and please make an effort to, every so often, speak face-to-face with an actual human being and not just with the ones that lives inside your BlackBerry.
Till next time.