I’ve noted before my “addiction” to my Blackberry – that blinking and vibrating device on my right hip that I can’t seem to live without (illustration at left courtesy of the NY Times).
I’ve also put the reliance on this object in the half-full perspective, putting it this way – “it shouldn’t be the center of your universe, but it can sure keep you centered in this universe“.
Last week the entire Blackberry system went down for 12 hours, putting millions of “users” into a full panic. The NY Times mused about this in an interesting op-ed piece by Matt Richtel in yesterday’s paper, entitled (cleverly) “It Don’t Mean a Thing if You Ain’t Got That Ping“.
Richtel asked a few experts about this addiction, and one comment in particular caught my interest :
James E. Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Computing at Rutgers University, said the data coming from the devices was really secondary. “Look at a lot of the communication — it’s idiotic in terms of substance,” Mr. Katz said. “But it’s vital in terms of meaning.”
Mr. Katz argues that participation gives people a sense of belonging, one traceable to the atavistic desire to congregate and cooperate for safety and survival. In addition, he said, the constant checking is an exercise in optimism, like being an explorer or a gambler. Eternal hope delivered in tiny bits while you’re on the go.
“It’s random reinforcement,” Mr. Katz said. The fact that you don’t know when important news will come, he said, “means you will quickly engage in obsessive compulsive behavior.”
So that’s it – I’m constantly “exercising my optimism” when I take my Blackberry out of its holster every five minutes, looking for “eternal hope delivered in tiny bits“.
I like that better than obsessive compulsive. 🙂
Since we’re discussing Blackberry psychology, here is my personal take – I get the most anxiety when I feel like I’m “behind” on things – at work, at home, or with other hobbies and activities.
Having the ability to be closer to my messages gives me the ability to stay “ahead”, and thus my mind is more at ease and it’s actually easier for me to focus – that is, once the device is back in the holster.
It’s a bit of a tightrope walk, I know, but it works most of the time. I’m still working on the times it doesn’t.
What’s your “connection” to your device? Let’s share experiences.
Have a great week!