We love and hate our addictions at the very same time.
Robert Palmer was addicted to love (Who isn't?). Paris Hilton is addicted to the spotlight. (Ah… the spotlight). There is the faint sound of cha-ching in the halls of tobacco companies every time a teenager lights up a cigarette in the spirit of looking cool.
Owners of PDAs are seemingly obsessed with their handheld devices.
What do we make of this particular kind of addiction?
A year ago, I chatted with Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion, makers of the BlackBerry. I wanted to take the temperature of his reaction to the word "CrackBerry" (since our marketing line for The Age of Speed reads: "Is our 24/7, CrackBerry, more-faster-now world eating us alive or setting us free?").
It helps to know that Balsillie's co-CEO invented the term CrackBerry in a Wall Street report.
Balsillie thought it was derogatory. He said, "Do whatever you have to do." Earlier that day, Balsillie was called out on stage by a panelist at a YPO conference.
"My wife hates you, Jim," said the CEO from Dubai. "I am addicted to your product. My BlackBerry."
Balsillie was gracious on stage, but it was clear in our conversation that he had a serious issue with people blaming their addictions on his product.
People have the choice whether to use it and when to use it. Why are we blamed for a car accident when someone is doing emails while driving? It's a tool designed to save people time. To speed up the mundane.
In a recent survey, we polled people who owned or had considered owning PDAs like the BlackBerry:
• 29% of people are avoiding the purchase of a PDA, fearing its perceived addictive nature.
• 59% were avoiding a PDA purchase because they didn't want to always be "on call."
These fears are legitimate, because:
• 37% of PDA owners estimated that they check their email several times per hour.
• 35% of PDA owners confessed to regularly sneaking a peek at their PDA in social situations.
The love-hate relationship we have with our technology is simply not the technology's fault. It all comes down to a choice. Your choice. Stop blaming technology. Be more conscious of how to use speed as an ally, and eliminate the busyness that is eating you alive.