As probably the only person in Britain, if not the entire world, who has stopped using their Blackberry, I've discovered an interesting new emotion, a sort of cross between smug, self-righteous superiority and sneering. You know how ex-smokers feel when they see someone smoking? No? Well, as an ex-smoker myself I can tell you. When I see someone smoking I feel really glad that I gave up and I still feel some of the resentment against cigarettes that I felt when I finally quit. But I understand why they do it, and I know that if I'm not vigilant I might one day fall off of the wagon. For all the good, intelligent and wise reasons for not smoking cannot mask the fact that there were times when having a cigarette was really, really nice.
But when I see people using their Blackberries on the tube, as I did this morning, I don't feel any of that. Using a Blackberry was never nice. Perhaps I'm just not important enough: after all, what kind of e-mails do I get... "the liver is ready for transplant"... not. Most of the e-mails I get are either "can you give X a quick ring about Y" or "can you have a look at this document". If it's the first kind I can read them on my phone perfectly adequately (my K800i has a good IMAP client on it -- for that matter, it has an RSS reader as well) and if it's the second kind then I'm not going to do it on the tube.
The woman I was sitting next to on the tube this morning was going through her messages, which were almost all (as far as I could snoop) either of the first kind ("call me when you get in") or of the corporate sort that I am generally spared ("please respond to let us know that you have recieved and read the new holiday entitlement rules addendum covering years in which the easter holiday..."). I won't say what the actual message was as that wouldn't be right. But she did respond in the affirmative and I bet she was lying.
The temptation to both read and respond to messages using the Blackberry was just too great. Instead of simply ignoring irrelevant e-mails (where I've been copied in on something that I'm no longer involved in or I've got something from some web site I used to visit four years ago) you find yourself going through them to delete them and free up inbox space. Worse still, you find yourself replying to e-mails in a frantic and ill-considered way, not giving the sender the respect of thinking things through properly.
Sometimes, only sometimes, I have a slight pang of jealousy when I see someone light a cigarette after a meal and a glass of wine. But I never, ever feel jealous of the guy on the train who thinks I'm impressed that he's e-mailed Julie to send the copy invoices to Martin instead of just telling her in the morning when she gets in.
The voices may not be real, but they do have some good ideas.
[posted with ecto]
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