In the second edition of “Vices,” BlackBerry addict Jasmine Offor unplugs and tries living analog.
“Vices” is a four-part column that challenges what we think we need. Each week, a different writer will give up something he or she “can’t live without.” We watch them land safely or crash and burn.
My BlackBerry is my life. There is not one day I go without my phone right by my side. We come in a pair like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese. Some things just aren’t as good when they’re separated.
I cannot function without him. Yes, he is a person too. Constantly glued to my palm, he is the gateway to all things wonderful – from chit-chatting with friends to sending work and school e-mails. I wouldn’t ever choose to live without my BlackBerry.
Except that I did in order to write this column.
They say the first step to recovery is acceptance, and I’m accepting it and trying to change. For four days, I gave up my drug of choice: the BlackBerry.
The first day without my “CrackBerry” wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I was incredibly busy, so I didn’t seem to notice much. After I got home, I was so excited to see my BlackBerry, but then quickly remembered my pact and told myself, “It’s untouchable for the rest of the weekend, and apparently so am I.”
To distract myself, I got on the computer in a mediocre attempt to check what was going on in the world. It was especially difficult when I needed to send e-mails. My BlackBerry does absolutely everything for me – including remembering my passwords – so after the third rejection from the TUmail log-in, I decided to call it quits. After approximately three minutes of typing on the keyboard, I was thoroughly bored.
Since I had no idea what was going on because I was clearly out of the loop, I decided it was time for a movie. I popped in “The Great Gatsby,” which reaffirmed that if I thought it was possible to make it through the weekend without losing my sanity, I was clearly bamboozled.
I started to have this feeling of depleting energy, as if my own personal battery was dying, with no charger in sight.
I couldn’t communicate with friends the way I wanted to. BlackBerry Messenger is the most important aspect of owning this particular smartphone – it’s like a futuristic AOL Instant Messenger. You can talk to your friends all around the world no matter what network they’re on, as long as they have a BlackBerry.
Unlike stone-age AIM, where you can’t tell whether someone is ignoring you and end up assuming the person just isn’t available, BBM lets you know the exact moment someone reads your message and then ignores it. It makes you feel a little better to know whatever you just typed isn’t at all relevant because right afterward you got hit with the “R,” for “read,” a sign of rejection.
Instead of blatantly being rude, you can always hit “end chat,” a great way to later say, “Oh, sorry, I never got that message.” Works every time.
Since I couldn’t get my hands on life’s social fruit, I just sat on AIM, being shunned by everyone who decided not to respond to me.
Withdrawal sets in.
By this point, my mind won’t stop racing, and I barely have enough brainpower to concentrate on anything. I’m being plagued with nightmares of sleeping through classes or missing life-changing calls. (Hey, it could happen.)Twitter is helping but proves to be useless after some time. I mean how can you have a private conversation on a website?
I was actually filled with a slight anger, sensing my sanity quickly dissolving. E-mails still hadn’t been checked. I’m pretty sure my group project members thought I’d died or bailed on them – just one of the many unnecessary inconveniences that an addict like me must go through. Every glimpse at my beloved companion, comfortably tucked in its case, gave me hope that a reunion was not far in sight.
OK, guys, I regret to say that on this morning, all willpower flew out the window. My soul mate and I were rejoined. I feel bad – I honestly do – but nothing beats the feeling of pushing the power button and in a matter of seconds, watching all your messages flood in. That was the point I regained awareness of the life around me. All was right with the world. So for those of you who thought I hit “end chat” on you but saw that I was still tweeting, hopefully you saw it wasn’t from UberTwitter.
Looking back on the past few days with a sane mind, I felt like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.” Recollecting past instances when my BlackBerry had been dead for hours, I decided to keep everyone’s safety in mind. Who knows what would’ve have happened if I hadn’t caved?
I will admit – I have a problem. I’m just not ready to get help yet.
Jasmine Offor can be reached at email@example.com.