I used to lunch regularly with a colleague – part shop, part guy stuff and gossip; always a pleasant diversion. Then, he got a Blackberry.
The first day he showed up with it, it hardly registered on the radar. Next time, it was quite a different story. He arrived a couple of minutes late, apologized profusely, said he just needed “a minute” and proceeded to get caught up on his outstanding messages for about the next 20 minutes while I sat in silence and watched.
Our next couple of lunches followed a similar script, with the added wrinkle that the Blackberry sat between us during lunch, getting frequent glances for new messages. I started to feel like it was a lunch date for three. I can’t say it was the Blackberry – perhaps my colleague just got too busy – but we haven’t had lunch together in a very long time.
There are plenty of signs that as we move increasingly online in that ‘2.0’ way, we become less interested in face to face interaction. I’m wondering whether my colleague might not be a telling prototype of that movement.
I’d tried to reach him by telephone (on business) unsuccessfully a number of times. On the last occasion, the receptionist that handles phone duties at his firm (helpfully) suggested, “Why not try him on his Blackberry? He’s always [her emphasis] reachable there”.
I got to thinking about it and she was absolutely right. A number of times I’d sent him emails of a business nature and gotten a reply, sometimes in a matter of minutes, even at times when he’d reasonably be expected to be busy. Other times, I’ve sent messages at times of day I wouldn’t dream of expecting an immediate reply, yet gotten one.
I’ve made a mental note to watch my own behaviour – whether I’ve moved and just haven’t realized it yet.