When the Red Light Stops Blinking…
By Ameya Bhabal and Haresh Harikumar
She kept moving her fingers rather to everyone’s annoyance. Her swift glances at her phone and the environment around kind of gave a feeling she wasn’t all Zen. And all of a sudden, a light blinked and the little girl jumped so high, it was ridiculous. It had been 4 hours since the BBM services had been paused in the UK, Africa, Middle East and parts of Asia.Homepage Image Source
The girl (and mind you, she is not the only one, nor is this situation hypothetical) couldn’t handle it. She needed to be out there, she needed people to know what she wanted to say. She hated the fact that she was cut off from her so-called fans. Her means to live vicariously through a celebrity is now put on hold. She needed the appreciation, she needed the drama, and she needed the constant banter. It was sustenance.
He button mashed the device to a pulp. Like hitting enter repeatedly would solve anything. In between routines of adjusting his tie, answering calls with mundane human voices at the other end (its obviously simpler to e-mail a person than deal with the emotional undertones that come along with a – how do they term it on the BlackBerry? – VOICE CALL) and driving a ridiculously over powered car that businessmen drive; he button mashed his ‘BB’. 6 hours since RIM servers have crashed.
He needed it. Not want or desire. Need. The need to play big brother and stay in control of your business. Your livelihood. Making sure that he had access to all his information and contacts every single second of the day. He needed to know whats happening when he is not around. Reports, meetings, monetary deals, profit or loss all backed up and stocked on 122 gms of plastic supplied by RIM. He knows fully well that 15 minutes from WHEREVER he was was an internet connection which would give him his daily fix of control. But that didn’t quite cut it. It wasn’t sustenance. It was just BBusiness.
Technology’s new available sink, where people can escape into and fuel their craziness: The social network. I’m not saying that social networking is a bad idea. It depends on who is using it. The BBM outage gave me perspective. It had become a drug, the BlackBerry. Some people just didn’t realize it. They panicked as to when the service will be restored. The fat-cats with a heftier wallet hopped on to their iPhones and got their fix from there. The mature and mind-frazzled people let a sigh of relief. Then there are the folks from crazy-town.
Mind you, there are two ends in the tech-crazy spectrum. There is one group who abhor anything with a circuit and go out living in the wild. And the second group feed on it like savages. Now, during these two days, I saw these savages asking everyone with a BlackBerry when the service will be back on, whether it will be back on and etc. They were hysterical, they were cranky and they were scary. I mean, I own one too, but the outage didn’t flip my switch. I was just disappointed that I lose 2 days of my data package and that communication is a problem since I rely on my BlackBerry service to get work done or even get a plan fixed with my friends.
However some of the BB users used this as a Social-Network Detox. With the growing number of Social networking tools available its not hard to keep in touch with someone. Its hard NOT to. Are we too connected ? How much connection can be validated? Three days away from the intricate world of networking. No single buzz vibration, no flashing indicator, no texting while driving, no more forwards interrupting sleep patterns, no status updates, no mails. New age Nirvana ?
So, the bottom line? We have the cast from every Darren Aronofsky movie and the ending scene when everything is going down. And it’s going down hard. These people are the ones who change their status update every 5 minutes and change their display picture every half an hour. They have to look good, they have to be of uttermost importance, and they need the dirt on everything. They need to be in the loop. I mean it may sound exaggerated, but the dependency on a phone that it might drive you a little unhinged is something to be worried about. If the cause of our completely dramatic meltdown (think any slow motion fight scene from the movie 300) is brought upon by our phones not functioning for 3 days, is it safe to assume technology has moved on from an innovation, to an advancement and finally to a psychoactive drug ?
UPDATE on 18/10/11: Seeing as to all the mayhem, madness and misery caused by the crashing of the BlackBerry servers – RIM is trying to score brownie points and crawl its way back into the good books of its customers with $100(AED 367) worth of free apps. Follow this link for more details