Confessions of a BB’holic

It has been almost a year since I posted my write up, “What’s your pin?” on Dipti’s Desk (Refer to Original Blog Post – http://wp.me/p16Ayv-S). The article preached everyone on handling the severe addiction to blackberry. I was telling people to pay more attention to the world out there and less to the red light flashing on their phone. The only problem was, while I was writing that post I had paused to look at my BBM messages about a hundred times in between. I was the official undercover BB’holic unsuccessfully trying to convince the human race to give it up when I myself had no intention to. Yes I’ll admit there was no difference between me and Rebecca Bloomwood (Shopaholic fame) who gave people advice on how to effectively manage their financial problems but in reality had her credit card company painfully chasing after her to pay up her bills.

As soon as the post had gone up, I had started receiving the expected never-ending taunts from friends and family. “Oh, haha just read your blog, are you giving up your blackberry anytime soon?” “Oh good one, are you taking out time to spend with YOUR friends and family?” and my mom’s favorite one endlessly repeated, “You know you should always practice what you preach!” So I had had enough and decided to end my addiction (and of course prove them wrong). Almost a year and a million taunts too late perhaps but I finally did do it.

It was no doubt my best decision made. Three months later and cured of BB’holism, I was feeling more awesome than ever. I was more productive at work hence I was able to leave earlier than I used to. I wasn’t checking my bb constantly while driving hence I was able to avoid close call accidents (Quit judging! you know you have been there too). I now knew a red light flashing can only mean a sms or a missed call and if someone spends money to get in touch with you, you know it’s got to be important! Haha okay usually. Red light flashing no longer implied useless forwards or jokes or the casual hey what’s up BBM message from a friend you barely talk to who clearly just needed some time to kill at that moment. I was now able to give everything I did and everyone I knew my complete undivided attention and that fact itself made me feel superior.

The obvious problem with feeling superior is; everyone around you starts to appear mediocre. Many tribulations also start to arise; annoyance, when you are the only one at a friend’s birthday dinner party who has no one to talk to because everyone is looking down at their private parts and laughing (undoubtedly at their BB messages and nothing else I hope). Frustration, when you speak to someone or ask them a question at work and they just half heartedly agree with you or answer something completely off topic because they are actually preoccupied reading something else on their phone; clearly, you being present there, making conversation with them straight in the eye isn’t priority enough, there was another emergency to solve via the BBM at the very same time. Helplessness, because even though you had finally graduated to level II, your friends were left behind and no matter how much you screamed at the top of your lungs, shook them up and told them how super awesome you feel, no one really does care, they just nod at you and then go back to level I.

Unfortunately, there is only so much one can try and do to change the world and as they say, if you can’t join ‘em and you have already beaten ‘em then you have no other option left but to point & laugh at ‘em (or you could just ignore ‘em). All my threats from my best friends had finally stopped “You better reactivate your account or else dot dot dot”, “Dude! Enough already! Don’t be such a miser, just get your bb back” or “My BB misses yours (awww)”. Empty threats really, I know I won’t lose any friends just because I had given the BB up and if I did then they really can’t count much as friends can they? And like I have repeated endless times, those who care about you will get in touch with you no matter what, it’s not like I had gotten rid of other synonyms of attention craving social media such as my face book or twitter. I wasn’t unreachable; I just wasn’t addicted anymore.

So as I sat outside on my balcony relaxing on my one fine super awesome BB’less evening with my darling mother sipping a hot cup of tea and enjoying the light breeze on my face; I sighed blissfully and said to my mom “Don’t you just love life without all these useless addictions? Thank god I have given up my blackberry, all my friends are still so addicted and it is honestly such a pity”. My mother just let out a faint hmm… and said nothing. I looked away and after a few seconds she cleared her throat and replied, “Yes well, there are other things out there to keep you busy now.” For a split second I wondered what she meant, then I looked down at the angry birds app I was playing on my newly gifted IPAD 2 and realized.

Oh crap.

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Whats your Pin?

“You are addicted to your blueberry again!” My poor mum says to me with a fed up look. I roll up my eyes “It’s a blackberry mom!” “Yea yea whatever you call it” she responds. My friends taunt “I am so glad I don’t own an anti social device like you do, all you do is ignore your physically existing friends”. My over sarcastic brother says “Hey have you joined that Face book group yet – You know you are addicted to your blackberry when …?”

I read an interesting article on the campus blackberry addiction in the local newspaper and it highlighted the following words : isolation, compulsive behavior, impossible to ignore, wasting time etc. I know you don’t want to hear it and frankly I don’t want to talk about it (considering I am very loyal to my own blueberry as well), but then again what are people talking about? In my personal experience, I find that blackberry messenger(known to our kind as BBM) has gotten me “connected”  than ever before. I am in constant touch with my friends and if someone “pings” me and types  ‘hey I am gonna be around your area – wanna meet up’? I usually take them up on their offer if I am not doing anything constructive. So my social device turned out to be quite helpful didn’t it? It managed to hook me up on a coffee date with an old friend in a matter of minutes and that too without costing me a single penny! Of course it’s a different story that I would probably be  messaging (or rather bbming as we call it) 50 other friends of mine while having coffee with the one who originally invited me on the date.

I first realized my addiction when I read somewhere that a recent survey of blackberry users showed that 80% of the people do not leave the house without their blackberry and my first thought was – What were the remaining 20% even thinking?! Well we all KNOW we are addicted, so let’s instead talk about getting to the root of the addiction and dig a tad deeper. Why do people seek the need to want to stay connected so desperately? Why isn’t just using emails on computer enough? Why isn’t it enough to call up a friend and say hi rather than BBM a message to him or her? It’s all self created importance. It’s the need to feel wanted by the world. We are not addicted because we don’t have a choice; we are addicted because we want to be. We want the attention and let’s face it, we are loving it!

How many times has this happened to you? You are at a party, you just happen to know one other person there and you cling on to that person like a parasite yapping your way through. Suddenly this one other person you know gets another call – a nature’s call. Oh crap, they’ve walked off towards the washroom. Suddenly you are left standing there alone with no one to talk to in a room filled with chattering people. A cute stranger looks at you and tries to make eye contact, but instead of noticing him or her, your eyes are busy searching the red light flashing on your blackberry. You start checking your Blackberry and look away pretending that the person sending you a forward or a joke right now is probably more important than a new friend you were just about to make who would have PROBABLY asked you out to dinner someday. (Let’s just throw that in shall we.)

What can you do about it? Some of us do take drastic measures and just cancel their service, you do save a lot of money and you get your life back. But most of us are not going to do that. Most of us like to go with the flow, we like to stay connected and we like to take a whiff of the self created air of importance around us once in a while. So what can we do to make our social life a little more bearable with the soul sucking device in our hands all the time? Get Strict! Be disciplined!

– Firstly, I am just blindly going to assume that no one reading this uses their blackberry while driving! It’s no wonder we have more accidents due to intextication rather than DUI.

– Secondly, stop taking it to the washroom please. No, there isn’t going to be a work crisis during the 3 minutes you spend in the washroom to pee. You will be surprised to know that the maximum numbers of germs that reside next to you are not on your hands even if you don’t wash them but are on your phone key pad. 

– Turn off your device when you are spending time with your family and friends. Keep a time slot for yourself when you check your emails.

– Don’t just listen to people when they talk, look into their eyes.  

Make sure that the blackberry isn’t the first thing you see when you wake up and definitely not the last thing you see when you go to bed.This is all a vicious circle that will come back to haunt you. You ignore someone because of the blackberry, someone ignores you. You get Mad. You want to feel important about yourself, and ergo enter the black berry again.

Make conversation with a random person and step out of your comfort zone. Watch that sunset and sunrise. Tomorrow when your life ends, you won’t care how about how many emails or messages you left unread but you will regret meeting new people and making experiences of your own.

So the next time someone asks you – What’s your pin? Tell them, “no thanks, I don’t believe in self created importance and I am definitely not an addict”. Although, I am pretty certain you are reading this on your…?

Swine Flu Epidemic – A Reminder From Nature?

Swine Flu, also known as pig flu or Influenza A virus by the media is the reason why the standard question at dinner tables these days is, “Do you know when are they going to develop the swine flu vaccination?”. This virus transmission from pigs to humans is also the reason why the topic of discussion at Indian kitty parties is the number of swine flu cases reported in a neighboring city (118 cases in Pune, India, last I heard). With the sight of surgically masked people walking down the streets of Indian cities, one can’t help but wonder about the severe acute respiratory disease and its root causes.

Not so long ago, the bird flu which does not normally affect species other than birds made its mark by infecting humans as well, with the first case of the virus occurring in Hong Kong in 1997. Genetic studies showed that the virus jumped from birds to humans leading to a high mortality rate in the years to come. Naturally, the more human cases of the bird flu virus are reported, the lesser people started to consume bird meat and the more the birds come down with the flu, the more the chances are humans will catch them too.

When such events mark the start of influenza epidemics all over the world, one can’t help but pose questions such as – Why is this happening? Is this nature’s way of telling us – Back off animals and eat less meat? Is this another warning from nature disguised in the form of a disease that we are meant to take seriously?

With such sudden appearances of different types of avian flu’s, it’s no wonder that many people are resorting to becoming vegetarians. From Paris Hilton to Michael Jackson (RIP), everyone is a vegetarian, making this a new craze in the present era. Apart from a healthy life style, these celebrities are sure not to contract any of the viruses from poultry such as chickens. And though swine flu cannot be contracted from eating meat that is cooked; people with exposure to raw meat are at increased risk of infection and hence as precautionary measure just stop eating them completely. And although these people turn vegetarians, they still do possess the risk of contracting diseases from their fellow human non vegetarians.

Not many people know that the first swine flu pandemic didn’t first actually occur in 2008, but appeared for the first time in the year 1918 when 50 to 100 Million people were killed worldwide. Although that particular epidemic was also associated with the virus from pigs, the exact origin still remains unsolved. The swine flu outbreak in 2009 is still the most recent and fresh in our minds (considering we are still in the year 2009) with statistics showing only 1 out of 1000 people who actually contract swine flu die. However, statistics mean nothing to an individual. I am a non vegetarian individual myself and this article is under no means trying to convince you to swing the other way, it is merely, some vegetarian food for thought.

The manifestation of psychological recession in the work environment

For all the Harry Potter fans out there, lets just say that Recession is the R word that ‘should not be named’ at the work place because it somehow manages to manifest itself into the brains of the people in the work force. With the downturn of the world economy, negative implications come to play in the minds of people. With so many real issues to worry about such as terrorism and war, most people lately are only concerned about their job security. Psychological recession is the dour view of a more unhappy future to come. Just reading this article is probably making you sick to the stomach. You are probably thinking there will be worse issues to worry about in the coming year. You hold on to your pockets and spend less. You keep reminding yourself that whilst millions of people are losing their jobs, you should consider yourself lucky you have one during this recession. You are manifesting the idea of recession in your mind and in your behavior by affecting people around you and the global economy all over.
Recently, I spoke to a friend from Dubai, who told me about the positive articles in the famous newspaper there known as the Gulf times which talked about recovery and how Dubai is not badly affected as people would presume it would be. She said to me with an aghast tone that she can’t understand how people can blatantly lie in the newspapers, I mean isn’t the whole purpose of news reporting facing the truth? What she doesn’t understand is that Dubai surprisingly gets the psychological recession. It is trying to restore positivism in its market and trying to get people to believe that there isn’t anything wrong and Dubai is not in millions of dollars of debt and they do not need the Abu Dhabi government to bail them out. They need its people to believe in the market and believe that it can hit recovery before anyone else can.
It is true that the recession has hit our young baby boomers and generation x the most. The new graduates are flooding into the market launching their career with the hope of reaching limitless heights and are left disappointed and full of despair with the current unemployment trend. Some of these kids go into B school and pursue their masters and some take up compromising jobs to pay bills while others run home to their parents. The negative attitude is wide spread; if the coming future generation has no hope then hope is lost for all of us. These thoughts play in their minds leaving them dejected and cynical about their future. People watch as companies lay off, downsize and outsource or hire temps for the job. Nearly everyone knows someone directly who has been hit by the recession either in terms of cut backs on pays or lay offs. So the result is that even the ones who are working become anxious and fearful. They begin to work harder and harder hoping that the same unfortunate circumstances will not befall on them. Even though they keep working harder, the work doesn’t end and neither does their feeling of job insecurity, this makes individuals vulnerable because of the economy’s competitiveness. With the R word manifesting itself in our minds, one should realize that focusing on fears only manages to reinforce it further.