Blackberry: Friend or Foe

I have all the symptoms of an addict:

* I think about it when its not there
* I’m constantly looking at it when its around
* I get nervous if it hasn’t been in my life for an hour

Yes, I’m talking about that wonderful and pernicious device, the Blackberry. I am a full-on, hardcore Blackberry addict. Try to catch my eye not wander down to it over dinner. See if I don’t notice either of us receiving a new text or email. If it’s information, and it’s from someone else, woe betide me if I don’t receive it ASAP. When that LED starts flashing red, you better believe I snap to attention.

But I can feel it slowly killing me. Its killing my ability to fully focus on being in the moment – whatever that moment requires. Whether its quality time with the girlfriend, focused planning with the business partner, or heads-down hard work by myself, the Blackberry gets in the way of that. And it keeps me nervous when I’m waiting to hear back from someone, whether it be the girlfriend, partner or friend. Because I am "always on," and I know that I’ll receive whatever info I need as soon as it’s sent, I get anxious when it takes longer than I’m expecting.

And for what good cause? I have the fortune of not being an investment banker, lawyer or other professional who codes of professional conduct require full-time availability. If its not news that someone can call me to tell me, it can wait a few hours. So personally, this device becomes another way of feeling important. The moment I hear the familiar Notifier_crystal tone, I’m reminded that someone out there needs me, wants my attention, or is about to file a lawsuit.

Just kidding on that last one.

I’m struggling with it though. I like being able to email during down moments on the subway and in taxis, and I like having access to all of the other data features i.e. Google Maps, GCal syncing, etc. Perhaps Blackberry addiction is best solved with good old fashioned self-restraint. I’ve done this by cutting myself off from information sources that aren’t contributive to goals, including Facebook, Myspace, Digg, and most blogs I’ve been visiting. I’m also setting focused time for reading the WSJ every morning, the Economist once a week, and Foreign Affairs once a month, rather than catching it when I can.

Managing information is such a challenge, and after being an addict for a few years now, I’m not sure that the Blackberry is helping me. How have you dealt with information overload?

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