By Simon Jacobson
Ok, I finally succumbed to the pressure of friends and colleagues to use a Blackberry (if you don’t know what that is, feel blessed). “You gotta try it once, and you’ll be addicted;” “You can do EVERYTHING with it;” “It has saved my life so many times;” “Always in touch” – are just some of the milder accolades I have heard from otherwise intelligent acquaintances.
“I can wait to read my e-mails when I get to my computer,” I protested.
“My addiction to the desktop is bad enough; I don’t need it intruding every other minute of my day,” was my feeble-sounding response to all my aggressive and progressive compatriots.
I also resented the rudeness of sitting with someone at a meeting, who more than half the time is glancing at and clicking his mobile.
When I would complain, I was told, “hey, don’t you know how to multitask? Can’t you chew gum while driving?” I wasn’t sure whether I was being compared to “driving” or to “chewing gum.”
My resistance was broken when I traveled this week to Frankfurt, and a colleague delivered to my door a fully loaded, ready-to-go, Blackberry (the impressive sounding “World Edition” no less, in case you were wondering), so that “we can stay in touch with you during your trip.”
Ok, I said to myself, I’ll check out the new gadget on the plane. First things first – we have to line up our priorities: I look for the games on the Blackberry menu. Sure enough – Brick Breaker appears on the screen. I play a game or two, get bored, and move on.
Was the Blackberry helpful on my trip? Yes, it was. I was able to quickly read and reply to various e-mails.
Conclusion: The handheld device is definitely a convenience, but hardly a necessity (at least for me). It can serve various functions – like getting even with the people using their devices while having a conversation with me. Or looking busy when you have no one to talk to in a room full of people. Or alleviating plain old boredom.
But overall, I’ll keep it around for times when I may need to respond quickly and am out of range of a desk or laptop.
Above all, I learned why these devices carry such an allure for our generation. That may be the best thing that came out of this experiment: Themes that we can talk about on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur: How we are all distracted by our new-found gadgets; how at the same time that technology is making us feel so connected with people and information – everything, everywhere, every moment – we feel ever more disconnected on a personal and psychological level; lessons we can learn from mobile devices, for example: by pressing a button in one corner of our lives we set in motion a series of events that reverberate around the world; how you can hold infinity in the palm of your handheld device. And many other messages.
Yes indeed, my friends, many sermons can be developed based on Blackberries, Iphones, Palms and our other mobile units.