The Curse Of The Red Flashing Light

March 20, 2009

If you search for “BlackBerry Addiction” in Google you will get a return of almost 1 million results! I mentioned in a previous article about my own BlackBerry addiction and after doing some research it appears I am not alone.

It’s easy to see why these harmless looking devices are termed “CrackBerry” when everyone from Barack Obama to Beyonce and Ben Affleck to Britney Spears have been spotted emailing away in public. In fact President Obama’s BlackBerry was always either in his hand or attached to his belt in the run up to his famous Presidential campaign.

So I was Googling away and found an article by Bryony Gordon of The Telegraph talking about her own addiction, even after taking possession of her BlackBerry only three weeks earlier. Her article opens with a comment about the red flashing light that appears when you have a new message and it was reading this that I discovered I was not alone in my own BlackBerry madness. There are some comments from readers at the end of her story saying things like, “there is an off button” and “get a life” etc but these people know nothing!

You see it is the red flashing light that gets me every time. It controls my life and has become an obsession.

The ringer and vibration alert are turned off on my 8900 because it is annoying for my family, work colleagues, friends etc to hear it going off every few minutes – I’m conscious of that and the silence is not a problem. So I check the top right to see if any emails, Twitter tweets, Facebook alerts or Skype messages have been received. The trouble is, I do it all the time.

I always know if it’s a real alert because it catches my eye and keeps flashing when I look but every now and then I get tricked, by my own obsession with the bloody thing! Watching TV and something red on the TV reflects against the BlackBerry – I’m there like a shot, checking for the continued red flashing. I pick up the device and something red in the room (one of my sons in their school uniform perhaps) makes it seem like there is a red flash on my BlackBerry, I’m there again – was it a false alert???

I wouldn’t mind but 95% of the messages I receive are un-important. I’ve filtered out a lot of the spam but still get marketing stuff through, Facebook alerts from people I don’t know and Skype messages from Chinese manufacturers I would never dream of doing business with but I have to check, every time.

I first realised the extent of my BlackBerry addiction about 5 years ago whilst on holiday in Spain. I hadn’t taken my mains charger because my old 8700 used to last 10 to 12 days before needing charging and we were only away for a week, seemed pointless taking it and using precious baggage space. On the first day of the holiday I made the mistake of locking it in the safe of our apartment. It was set to switch off at midnight as it usually was and turn itself on at 7am (very well trained was my 8700). The problem was, we didn’t awake until around 11am and the poor thing had been trying to get a signal from inside the safe for 4 hours and had all but drained the battery in doing so. I was gutted!

I spent the next day and a half dragging my pregnant partner and our 18 month old son around the local mobile phone shops trying to find a charger. The situation was bad, very bad. The BlackBerry hadn’t really caught on in Spain yet back then and most stores had never even seen one, let alone stocked spares. Needless to say I was miserable for the rest of the week and my holiday was ruined. I learned my lesson and now never go away without a spare  battery and the mains charger!

It’s sad isn’t it? But in response to Beerio who replied to Ms Gordon’s post, “You know, you can always turn the flashing off…. That way you might actually be able to do something else“, yes you can turn it off but why would you want to? Who knows, the next message could be from the National Lottery informing me of a winning ticket but more than likely it will be my friends in China again, letting me know of their latest range!

Now, is that my BlackBerry flashing again? Yes it is – gotta go…



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