Sunday, January 28, 2007

That Unlovable Device

The Boston Globe's Business Filter blogger, Maura Welch, commented on our overscheduled lives, which seem to consist these days of interruptions being interrupted by more interruptions. And then a few minutes later I found myself looking at this ad:


And I thought, "Do you really want to go there?"

I don't have a Blackberry (or similar device). I don't need one. And I'm not one of those reflexive "Blackberry Evil!" types.

They are great for some people. Someone who travels a lot and was toting her laptop around just to read email and look at documents told me she loved it because she could leave the laptop at home. That makes sense.

But I guess I've gotten a few too many Blackberry-composed emails that say things like "awsm cn we gett propossl to clnt nXT Weak?" in response to non-urgent matters which could have waited until someone got to their desk. And had too many lunches with Blackberry users whose eyes kept moving to their ManacleBerry every few minutes as it buzzed. (At one of those I finally said, "If it's important, they'll call you!")

Immediacy created urgency. And so when you can get every email immediately, email becomes urgent. When you can be reached all the time on your mobile phone, every call becomes urgent.

For those of us old enough to remember when you only could be reached by phone when you were sitting at your desk and documents had to be couriered, faxed, or fedexed, it's all a bit silly.

Yes, I appreciate the benefits of modern electronic communications. In fact, my business wouldn't be possible without them. I just dislike the way that they make us abdicate our responsibility of filtering what's coming in and prioritizing it.

And there is a price to that. All kidding about typos aside, I have noticed that messages from somebody's digital third arm are more likely to be confused and unhelpful. This stuff can really destroy focus if you are not careful about it.

And there's the personal cost. A Houston Chronicle blogger observed, during what passes for a winter storm down here last week (icy overpasses, city shuts down), that we will never, ever have a snow day again - the day when you just can't get to work, so you have to spend the day inside watching the weather and playing with your kids, or reading a novel, or watching movies, or playing with the cats.

That's good for business, I know. I just wonder if it's good for us.

No comments: