Monday, August 18, 2008

back in black(berry)

After spending twelve days in France, I’m finding it hard to re-adjust to home, a world full of crappy bread and BlackBerrys that actually have service. This morning at the disgustingly early hour of 5 a.m. (oh jetlag, we underestimate how bad you really are), my dad joked, “Who’s going to go out and pick up the fresh baguette?” and I almost cried as I poured myself a stupidly low-calorie bowl of Puffins cereal instead.

My BlackBerry is the highly coveted Curve edition, a sleek beauty encased in a rubbery neon-green cover I insisted on buying (“I don’t get it,” my mom said when she saw the mucus-colored defilement). However, as much as I love the Curve, it has no service outside the U.S. This impediment shocked my friends, who wondered aloud if I’d be able to handle almost two weeks of connectionless existence. I wasn’t so sure myself.

Before the CrackBerry entered my life, I had a healthy relationship with my phone, one that entailed average amounts of texting and a few calls a day. Now that my phone also offers Facebook access, email, and BlackBerry Messaging, I’m hooked.

Although I had a mild panic attack at the thought of being BlackBerry-less while in France, it was only about a 3 on the Richter scale of freak-outs. To be honest, the thought of strolling the cobblestone streets of Paris sans cell phone sounded all the more enticing – a real vacation, with no worries, decisions, or phone calls from the McCain campaign (are they trying to reform me or something?).

Armed with the idea that my trip would be like BlackBerry rehab, I used my phone as much as possible while in the airport (think of Lindsay Lohan throwing back shots of vodka the night before her eighth trip to Promises in Malibu). Once on the plane, I gave my phone a quick kiss and shut it off – “see ya in twelve days!”

While in Paris, I always felt like I was missing something as I packed up my bag in the morning; lip-gloss, wallet, sunglasses were all intact, and it would take me a minute to realize that I wouldn’t need my phone.

Whenever I stepped into a taxi or sat down to order a $10 mini bottle of Perrier (blame the exchange rate) at a café, I involuntarily reached to check my messages, only to remember that I wouldn’t be able to. More than that, I realized that I wouldn’t have to.

Having phones with us all the time makes us feel obliged to use them. It’s like having an umbrella on a cloudy day: if it starts to drizzle you automatically use it, but if you are umbrella-less, you realize it’s unnecessary to protect yourself from rain with all the vigor of a leaky faucet.

We all feel like we’ll miss something crucial and life changing if we don’t check our phones and emails constantly – this, of course, is bogus. People have lived for centuries without being so plugged-in and ridiculously connected, and they all turned out fine.

There is definitely a certain allure that comes with being informed, one that is irresistible when you have the means. But being without my BlackBerry, I learned that being hooked-in is not as necessary as we think; in fact, it can be annoying and imposing.

That being said, I did turn my phone back on when our plane landed in New York. It immediately began to buzz as I methodically received 45 emails, 32 Facebook notifications, 6 texts and 2 BlackBerry Messages one after another. Sneakily, I put my phone on silent – no harm in being “on vacation” for a few more hours, right?


Nikki said...

you are so insightful and oh so correct. still, without our coveted BBM conversations, i would forget half the funny things i tell you daily thus sucking some of the life out of our relationship. so thank you blackberry, for improving the quality of our friendship.

dgold911 said...

hahaha, nikki. and what would I do if I couldn't talk/text to my alex every day when she is at school? like it or or, we are addicted....