Lanarda Morris – Yaadinfo Contributor
In the midst of the information era where technology has drastically improved the way we communicate, erased physical barriers and expanded our knowledge base, the assimilation of the blackberry into our society has been extraordinary. Extraordinary because you’ll often see users with heads bowed, and thumbs flying over the tiny keypad; continuously fiddling with the palmtop gadget. Whether walking in the streets or behind the steering wheel, checking alerts and texting, it appears users always have something to do on the device, demanding much of their attention.
But how did we get here? At what point did this technology bug bite Jamaica?
The blackberry smartphone was introduced into the country in 2004. At that time, the mobile device was marketed by telecommunications companies mainly to corporate clients because of its distinctive business functions. Since then, the number of individuals owning a blackberry has noticeably skyrocketed, as it is now seen as the mobile phone of choice not only for corporate Jamaica but also for professionals and university students. Digicel – the island’s market share leader for mobile communication services – had reported selling more than 5,000 units in just the first two years of distributing the smartphone (The Jamaica Observer, 2010). I’ve even seen high school students sporting Blackberry phones! Now I’ve come to the realization that the gadget has officially taken over the island.
Clearly we all are now aware how addictive having one can become. Ask any Blackberry owner and they will probably fess up to spending most of their day on it. It seems to be taking over lives, making once sociable beings rather fixated on their phones. While at parties, when you’re supposed to be mingling, you’re on your Blackberry! While out with friends for dinner/drinks, you’re on your Blackberry! If you aren’t careful you’ll soon become so accustomed to corresponding by text, that you’ll have no clue how to interact with others in person. You wanna know how bad it is? I have seen questions posited online as to what can you live without for extended months – sex or your blackberry. And, yeah, you guessed it… sex was the overwhelming response.
[Editor’s Note: Uhhhhh…you know what? Never mind!]
But what is it about the device that makes people seemingly so addicted? Isn’t it just another typical smartphone?
Perhaps it’s the revolutionary ‘push’ email system that allows you immediate email access – a key feature for the on-the-go individual. Maybe it’s the abundance of applications available, especially for the major social networks – Facebook, MySpace and Twitter – that people have grown to love. But personally, I believe the feature that contributes most significantly to the addiction is the Blackberry Messenger application. Since the Blackberry network is owned exclusively by RIM (Research In Motion), it is able to connect all blackberry devices in the world. Therefore, via the use of a PIN, the messenger application allows users unlimited communication regardless of location. And due to this exclusivity, RIM is able to maintain connection reliability, stability and security for the devices’ operations.
It’s no wonder the term ‘crackberry’ has become its common substitute as users quickly become hooked to the uniquely defined features. I’m not kidding around here folks, there are studies showing that the palm-sized device has been known to create an actual addiction that affects users’ physical health, and those addicted are rehabilitated with therapy used on drug and alcohol addicts. One study, authored by professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, found too much blackberry use can cause serious stress. [See this video link for more information]
Another well known research co-authored by David Vance, assistant professor at Rutgers-Camden University, gave an analysis of how personal lives suffer as a result of addiction to information and communication technologies (ICT), such as the blackberry. (I managed to get copies of the research from David Vance himself! – “The Unbalanced Hi-Tech Life” and “Addicted to Technology”)
And there is more bad news. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has designated the pain and numbness in the hand, between the thumb and the wrist caused by excessive typing on hand-held devices, as ‘blackberry thumb’. There are even more warnings by hand therapists of a rising incidence of tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome linked to the overuse of smartphone gadgets. Sometimes these conditions can be severe and may even cause disability. [An APTA expert had this to say about blackberry thumb]
Are all these concerns enough to temper user addiction? Well…maybe not…since the Rutgers research stated addicted users will choose to continue in spite of the painful symptoms and warnings. Oh my! You Blackberry junkies better take note. The device may be heralded as a great advancement in mobile technology, but as is typically the case, with the good, comes the bad and the ugly.
Get help! That’s exactly what I am going to do now 😀 .
[Posted from my Blackberry Mobile device]
[Editor’s Note: And now to make matters worse, they’ve gone and created a Blackberry Tablet!]
- Crackberry Addicts Score New Way to Get Fix (npr.org)
- Lock up your Crackberries (go.theregister.com)
- Apps for CrackBerry Heads (brighthub.com)
- American Society of Hand Therapists issues consumer alert