Kicking that nasty BlackBerry habit

Kicking that nasty BlackBerry habit

Summary: My BlackBerry of late has been such a central part of my life, the idea of being separated from it makes my heart skip a beat with worry.As a journalist, I get a lot of emails -- at least 30 emails per day on average.


My BlackBerry of late has been such a central part of my life, the idea of being separated from it makes my heart skip a beat with worry.

As a journalist, I get a lot of emails -- at least 30 emails per day on average. But because I have multiple email accounts, TwitterBerry notifications and the Facebook application installed on my phone, I can get up to 100 notifications in a working day.

My all-round behaviour has altered as a result. My friends will hear the dulcet tones of BBPro_GungHo, the default message notification, and my reaction will be that of stress and frustration. "Oh my God, not another damn email!" yet on the inside I jump up and down shouting, "YAY! I'm popular!". It's odd behaviour, but I bet I am not the only person who does it.

The Daily Mail, still a way away from being recognised as a reputable source of information, claims research carried out shows BlackBerry addictions being similar to that of drug addictions. The focus of the world around BlackBerry users becomes so narrow, they almost blank out parts of everyday life that happens around them.

Barack Obama, before he took office, was told he would not be able to send emails from his BlackBerry. Well, if you're the leader of the free world and the most powerful man on the planet, it turned out he can override what his security agencies recommend. He's still in full swing with his device, which could well be the most secure device on Earth, after saying, "administrators would have to pry it from my hands" [after becoming inaugurated.]

MIT conducted studies which resolved that too much BlackBerry "can cause serious stress". Again, true. When Elliot threw his BlackBerry against the wall, smashing the screen and denting the casing, I felt this would be a perfect time to tell him to calm down. Little did I know that telling someone to calm down when in fact, all they want to do is be angry, is not the best idea.

According to WBZTV:

"As a result of the MIT studies, some companies are looking at forcing employees to take breaks from their BlackBerry's at certain times of the day, possibly to turn them off or put them in a box. But [a researcher on the study] says the addiction is so strong that no company has been able to do that yet."

Just the other day, I was walking towards my friend's house, BlackBerry in hand replying to a Facebook message, and start walking over the zebra crossing. The crossing are pedestrians' right-of-way: any traffic coming must stop without fail to let the person cross as and when someone waits to cross. However, I never wait to cross and just start walking which can yield hilarious results of people slamming on their brakes. On this occasion, I didn't see the car speeding round the corner, far too fast. And had I not had my BlackBerry in my hand with eyes glazed over with Facebook deliciousness, I probably wouldn't have a massive gash on my leg as a result of being hit by the car.

Maybe the BlackBerry addiction could start the next generation of workaholics... could you give up your BlackBerry for an hour, a day or even a week?

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, BlackBerry

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  • when an addiction starts to get destructive...

    It really is an addiction. Getting hit by a car because a person can't take their eyes off the Blackberry screen definitely qualifies as an addiction.

    As an employee, I understand why it can be hard to put up the phone. You are worried you might miss an important e-mail and possibly lose your job. Also you might not look as productive as someone else who is constantly connected 24/7/365.

    No matter what assurances you get from your company or immediate boss, some employees just can't shake the feeling they need to plugged in or they will lose their jobs.

    If a company really wanted to disconnect their employees for a while, they would pay for the phones and demand that the phones be physically collected for some weekends, or for vacations. As part of a corporate vacation strategy, a worker would be required to turn in their company phone for the duration. Same with laptops and other connectivity devices. If every person in the company had to follow this procedure, the anxiety of being disconnected might be a little less.

    A company that says to disconnect but then punished employees for missing an e-mail, basically gets the message across, do what I want, not what I say.
    • The split-device concept

      I think maybe it comes back down to the split device theory. You have a dedicated device for everything - a camera should be a camera, a BlackBerry should be a phone/SMS utility, Outlook should be an email service. If businesses start separating these things down, as opposed to using your BlackBerry for email, phone, SMS, web browsing, applications and camera facilities, do you think this would help?
      • I don't think so...

        Basically, it isn't really the combination that is truly addicting. It is the human mentality behind it.

        Whatever the cause, the desire to stay connected is strong in some people.

        If you give them 20 single purpose gadgets, they will simply consolidate in some trendy bag.

        The problem isn't the tech, it is the humans that use it.
      • Not really

        It is not an issue of splitting devices. It is an issue of making shure that you pay attention to the task at hand.

        I hate this concept of multi-tasking in our society nowadays. My significant other cannot sit at the table to eat without reading a magazine, or watch TV without playing in the laptop, or use cell phone while driving.

        Focus on the main task and then move on to the next. You will be less stressed and safer.
        • Driving is NOT for multitasking!!!

          In Britain it is illegal to use a phone while driving. You have to stop your vehicle and switch off the engine before you can legally use a cellphone. This is because surveys have shown that phone users are a significantly higher accident risk and there have been fatalities directly attributable to cellphone use.
          Personally I want to enjoy life. I don't even check my email every day - every other day, maybe, or even less often when I'm on vacation. As for the cellphone, I keep it switched on most of the time but it's just a phone, and if it's switched off, my voicemail will handle any messages. What's the point of living if you're a slave to electronic gadgets?
      • Split Devices

        I don't think that's a bad idea in theory but it's never going to happen in a million years.
    • Crackberry Addiction

      Hence for me I have the following rule, after hours, work emails are nto important, so I have it not alert me after 6:00pm and does not start again until 7:00am. If it is important after hours, people know to call me. If they don't know, it cant be that important or they dont really know me 8). However I live from my calendar, so that must always be uptodate and alert me as I manage my personal life and work life from my diary.
      Facebook, I check occasionally when doing nothing else but I've never really been a big social network user. What I'm doing right now is not really eeryones business.
  • RE: Kicking that nasty BlackBerry habit

    You deserve the gash on your leg. Anyone who walks out onto the street cross walk or not for the mere thrill of people slamming on their brakes, deserves to get hit. Especially the ones glued to their cell phones. I own a Blackberry Curve 8900, and I just don't see the addiction. I leave mine at home all the time. For me I enjoy listening to the app Pandora, as I drift off to sleep.
    • Law in England

      The laws are quite clear evn to me as an American. When a person is in the Zebra Crossing zone ALL traffic is to stop for them. The driver gets the ticket. I hope this one did if they were in fact speeding. But they should anyway for failing to observe the law.

      That being said, even if you were expecting traffic to stop, you should look to be sure Zack.
      • Road manners in England

        I've seen how people drive in the U.K. It's worse than New York City during rush hour! You people don't pay attention at all!
        1). You're an idiot for stepping into the Zebra zone without looking. You're in the U.K. for the Queens sake!
        2). If you can't separate yourself from work, you shouldn't have left the office!

        Maybe the driver of the car that hit you was looking at their Crackberry when they hit you...? Things that make you go, Hmmmm....
      • Read Again

        You might want to read the Highway Code on rules for pedestrians and apply some common sense before being so certain you understand the rules governing zebra crossings in the UK. Here's the relevant paragraph :-

        "19 Zebra crossings. Give traffic plenty of time to see you and to stop before you start to cross. Vehicles will need more time when the road is slippery. Wait until traffic has stopped from both directions or the road is clear before crossing. Remember that traffic does not have to stop until someone has moved onto the crossing. Keep looking both ways, and listening, in case a driver or rider has not seen you and attempts to overtake a vehicle that has stopped."

        Simply walking straight out onto a zebra crossing without giving time traffic to stop in a safe manner is reckless. That's particularly so if the road conditions are slippery and a driver has to perform an emergency stop in such conditions. Simply stepping straight out onto a zebra crossing without looking is a ridiculously dangerous thing to do. Not only for the pedestrian him/herself, but the danger it causes to others.

        Now I've no time for drivers who abuse the law - they are in charge of a vehicle that can easily kill and do huge damage. But any adult uses the road system, as a driver, cyclist or pedestrian has to give some consideration to others.

        Anybody contributing to causing an avoidable accident through their behaviour through a very narrow reading of rules is likely to find that, at the very least, any claim for damages will be severely compromised. The law and legal system is not so daft as to forget reasonable common sense and reasonable behaviour.
      • Same Law in Maryland, DC

        The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia both have laws that state that drivers must yeild to pedestrians in Crosswalk. However in DC, that is also contigent on the state of the Walk/Don'tWalk signal. Regardless, based on my childhood in Baltimore City I will still look to the left then the right and back to the left before stepping out as I choose not to be "dead right". The fact that the drive is in jail doesn't bring you back.

        I work for the Department of Defense. Blackberries, cell phones, and PDA's are not even allowed in the building. In certain zones of the base, they are not allow to be on, and no cells phones that can take pictures are allowed on base. That means for at least 8.5 hours every day masses of people have to go without these devices. If we can do it than anyone can, and should. Also it is illogical to spend minutes or money on minutes when you are sitting right beside a landline phone that cost nothing. It is illogical to pay to use your blackberry to connect to the internet or get tweets when you are sitting in front of a desktop or laptop computer which most everyone who uses these devices is. I smoked for 4.5 packs a day for 29 years before I quit 12 years ago, and that was a chemical addiction that had to be broken. If I can do that, there is no reason someone can't break a bad habit based purely upon behavior. Particularly when you already recognize you have a problem. The hardest part in breaking an addiction is admitting you have a problem. So best of luck to you in the rest of your 12 steps.
  • Need to control the interuption interval

    Blackberry could ease the stress by allowing users to set a minimum interuption interval which would allow only one email or IM notification every X minutes. Thus every 15 minutes, for example, you would get a single notification if you had at least one message waiting. High priority messages could also be excluded from the rule.
    • about control

      Maybe only that it's new and I've had it only a few weeks: Blackberry does have a page where one can turn off notifications
      Richard Vickery
      • true but that's not what I'm suggesting

        I know you can turn it completely off but I don't want to turn it completely off, I just want it to notify me no more often than about once every 15 minutes.
    • Interruption

      You can do that on a Blackberry, but who does? This has nothing to do with hardware or software or phones or emails and everything to do with people and our culture.
  • RE: Kicking that nasty BlackBerry habit

    Blackberry, cell phone.... it doesn't matter. These devices are creating an alarming dis-association between users and their environment.
    You may know a few things about technology, but making vehicles "slam their brakes" as entertainment speaks to your immaturity.
    • Brake slam

      And narcissism, and stupidity, and hubris, and on and on. Welcome to the Western world.
  • RE: Kicking that nasty BlackBerry habit

    I always leave my Blackberry when I go on vacation. I'm a SCUBA diver and you know what saltwater does to BlacBerry's. Two weeks in the Carribbean and I know what it does to my hair, never mind my Blackberry. That and the roaming fees, I can get hookers for cheaper.
    One thing, I have started controlling my Junk Mail. How many enlargement pills do I have to buy before they will stop the E-mails? Or how many cures for male pattern baldness? How come I don't have Junk E-Mail settings on my Blackberry?
  • 30 Messages a day?

    You mean 300, right? That's closer to my average. And most the them expect a response.