As of a month ago, I have officially renounce the ties with my BlackBerry. And I’m never turning back.
I remember it was late in 2008, I was persuaded by my friends to own a BlackBerry. I have never thought that I needed a BlackBerry smartphone, because back then, I was happy with my own simple Sony Ericsson flip cellphone – I only needed to SMS, call, and occasionally check my email via my provider’s mobile connection.
To be frank, one of the reasons why I didn’t want to own a “BB” is because I don’t want to be mainstream, I wanted to be different. Alas, In Indonesia, as a BBC news article once reported, if you don’t have the right gadget, you are practically outside the social circle.
My friends pleaded that, “come on, get a BlackBerry. Nowadays people ask for your PIN number (for BlackBerry Messenger), asking for your phone number is so outdated”.
Shortly after that plea, I was sitting in front of an ITC counter selling my phone to trade it with an entry-level BlackBerry Curve. Little do I know that this was only the beginning of my marriage with a gadget, and how it has altered the social urban interaction in Indonesia.
I always believe that Indonesians love to chat, that’s why they love the BBM so much. It’s quick, it’s useful to send pictures or voice memos, and you can have group chats so your group members can know what’s going on with each other. Most of all, it’s free because it’s included in your BlackBerry internet service.
This is where it starts.
You constantly check on the gadget as soon as the light blinks.
You then see people in Indonesia – in the big cities at least – sitting in a table, having drinks or dinner, but their eyes are all glued on their tiny BlackBerry screen. No meaningful conversation because their ‘real’ conversation happens on the bubbles of the BBM chats.
What I notice with people having this phenomena is that there is an enormous lack of willpower. Why can’t you just put down your phone whenever someone is talking in front of you? The things in your smartphone can wait a while, but the time that you spend with that person might not.
I think information and communication technology is great because it can keep you connected all the time, but for me I realize that it only made human connection more valuable.
I have now switched to an Android smartphone because compared to the BlackBerry, in terms of features, the BlackBerry is a dinosaur. Who knows, it might become like the next Nokia because they were stuck with the Symbian for so long.
When I left my BlackBerry, I notice that I only have numbers of people whom I am really in touch with. Believe me, I have lots of PINs of people who have added me on BBM, but never had a single conversation with. The ones who irritates me are those who gives me broadcast messages or are constantly “checking contacts – ignore please”.
Hello? If you’re still in contact with me you don’t need to check it.
Perhaps I’m old-school, but the thing with phone numbers are, there are costs associated with making a phone call or an SMS to that person. Thus, there is a certain level of ‘sacrifice’ that you’re willing to make to be in touch with that person.
You want free stuff? Email, Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, GTalk, Hotmail, Direct Message on Twitter, on Facebook, whatever. Provided that you have an internet connection – which have costs also in the end.
I agree that the BlackBerry is good for office use, be it for bosses to get a hold of their associates or clients to check on the progress of their projects with their consultants, you name it. However, I’ve decided that unless my job require me to have a BlackBerry, I myself am not obliged to have one.