Crackberries Blackberries

Addicted to Crackberries

Charles Moffat - March 2008.

CrackBerry is a common word these days referring to "BlackBerry Addiction". But more often than not, these terms are used in humorous contexts and not to describe real issues that seriously affect people and their loved ones. For many people "quitting" their BlackBerrys or smartphones, or simply leaving them at work once in a while, isn't even a consideration. If they forget it somewhere, they panic as if the world might fall apart without them.

Just because someone might just have sent you a message in the past 45 seconds and you urgently need to check for new messages, does that mean you're addicted?

John O'Neill, director of a Texas-based addiction centre, reckons that you have cause for concern if:

A. You check your mobile phone halfway through watching a film.

B. You can't make it through dinner without checking your email.

O'Neill states that "Technology can become more than a passing problem and more like an addiction. You become irritable when you can't use it. The Internet goes down and you lose your mind. You start to hide your use. The first thing to do is take a long, hard look at how you are using technologies, and then to start to set some limits."

A counterpart of O'Neill's at the University of Michigan, Robert Zucker, called these claims "trendy, but not scientific," and, unsurprisingly, the usual derision was poured on O'Neill on various internet message-boards, (where, obviously, thousands of people were hanging around looking for something to start commenting on.) Other commenters were more sanguine. "Of course I'm addicted," wrote one, "bring on the implants." "Was I the only one hoping for a little corny quiz just to prove that I am addicted?" said another.

Why do people want to spend 10-hour stretches building imaginary conservatories in Second Life, or for that matter, spending 10 hours doing a jigsaw puzzle? Are people just naturally workaholics and enjoy working on the same task, regardless of whether its a technological task?

For myself, I enjoy going on gaming binges and playing Counter-Strike or Dungeons & Dragons Online for 6 to 12 hours at a time. Am I addicted? Hardly, I only play it a couple times a month. But what about people who spend 5 to 10 hours EVERY DAY?

Ask yourself, how many times per day do you send messages on your BlackBerry?

How often do you check for new messages?

Is it disruptive to your family life, your love life or your work life?

Citizenship and Immigration Canada bans BlackBerry use during off hours

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has issued a directive to its employees ordering them to cease BlackBerry use, at least for work purposes, overnight, during weekends and on holidays because they're throwing off staffers' work/life balance. The department's Deputy Minister Richard Fadden also wants to ban the Research In Motion devices from meetings: No more BlackBerries buzzing during meetings. Apparently Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty has already barred BlackBerrys from his meetings.

The department's deputy minister, Richard Fadden, sent out a memo asking employees to implement a BlackBerry "blackout" between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and on weekends and holidays.

"Work/life quality is a priority for me and this organization because achieving it benefits us both as individuals and as a department," Fadden wrote.

"When we can 'balance' our work and personal responsibilities, we, as a team, stand to not only serve and perform more effectively, but also to attract and keep employees to help us build a stronger Canada."

BlackBerries, made by Canadian-based Research In Motion, are handheld communication devices that can be used to send e-mails and make phone calls -- thus allowing people to bring the office to their homes, vehicles or even the ski slopes.

They have become an essential workplace tool in politics, business and the professions.

Fadden also asked employees not to use BlackBerries during meetings and also not to schedule meetings over lunch.

"I expect that some of you will consider the above a bit artificial. They may be a little, but I believe we have to start somewhere, and since reducing the quantity of work is unlikely to yield short-term results, we are 'attacking' some of the stresses around work," he said.

He said he understood there might be times when implementing all his requests won't be possible, but people should do their best to respect the new rules.

A spokeswoman for the department was unable to say what guidelines would be given for handling emergencies.

Sheraton Chicago Cracks Down on Crackberries with BlackBerry Detox Challenge

Rick Ueno, general manager of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers and a "former BlackBerry addict," says that roughly two years ago he realized his BlackBerry use was getting out of hand. He decided to do something about it.

"If you really get addicted the way I was, it's a problem," Ueno says. "I would wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and have to check my messages. I'd check [the BlackBerry] at traffic lights and everywhere else."

So he decided to retire his device and, in his words, go cold turkey. (Ueno says that’s the only way to quit.) It wasn't easy at first, but he soon realized that he could be more productive without a BlackBerry (using his laptop to check for e-mail instead). This way, he spends more face time with customers instead of being tethered to a handheld.

"[The BlackBerry] was stressing me out. I'm a hell of a lot more creative now," Ueno said. "I felt like that's all I used to do, e-mail all day, as opposed to working on customer connections. I feel a lot better without it."

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