Koos Kombuis

The day I buried my Blackberry

2012-04-17 10:32
Remember when it used to be a status symbol simply to have a cellphone?

Those were the bad old days when cellphones were too big to fit into the inside pocket of my jacket. Or, should I say, those were the days when men still wore jackets.

Nowadays, most cellphones can fit into the pockets of my jeans, and they're getting ever smaller. I saw one of the new generation iPod thingeys the other day; it resembled a postage stamp. Who said size doesn't count? The smaller the better, according to my friends in the IT business.

Then again, not much has changed. It may no longer be a status symbol to have a cellphone, but it is still, in my book, a status symbol to have an iPhone or a tablet, well, in short any of the stuff designed by Steve Jobs and subsequently copied by competitors.

That kind of wizardry is not quite beyond my reach financially, but in order to afford one I would have to cut down on some other expense, and there's the rub.

I simply can't find the courage, no matter how deep I dig into my own psyche, to give up my habit of drinking one double tot of expensive brandy before bedtime on weekends. I'd rather keep my old Nokia and my old laptop.

In my eyes (and, I bet, in the eyes of the great majority of ordinary folk), people who have made the investments in any of these new ultra-smart communication devices exist on a slightly elevated plane, removed from us mere mortals.

For one thing, they are never ever bored. If travelling by plane, they can play on their virtual drum sets, they can take pictures of themselves and transform their own images into Robocop lookalikes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! They can do all sorts of things that have nothing to do with actually phoning other people.

I had one short spell of being a part of such an exclusive club. For a while, and when it was still a status symbol, I was the proud owner of a Blackberry.

Okay, it was the cheapest of the range of available Blackberries at the time, but from a distance no-one could tell the difference. While I owned a Blackberry, I made a point of carrying it in my hand instead of in my pocket. When seated at a restaurant table, the Blackberry lay next to my cutlery, grandly visible to any colleagues who happened to pass by. I was obscenely proud of my Blackberry.

Alas, how the mighty have fallen! Within a matter of the last few weeks, it seems, Blackberry went out of fashion.

People who still have Blackberries hide them in the cubby-holes of their cars and only fetch them late at night when they take the dog out for a pee to listen to their messages in the darkness of their back yard, underneath the cold and naked stars, unseen by friends or neighbours.

I think it started with the numerous problems experienced by users of the Blackberry Messenger service (an application I never even bothered to switch on because I didn't understand it anyway).

Shortly after that,  rumours started going around that the Blackberry guys were sharing private information with certain governments, which made them look politically uncool especially in the eyes of those of us who were fans of Assange.

And now, everywhere you go, people are just sommer plein gatvol of their Blackberries without any particular reason. I read a column by Johan van Zyl in Die Burger in which he described how he had thrown his Blackberry against the wall of his office (apparently, Blackberries are quite tough, he had to throw it a few times before it shattered).

Yet the bottom line is this: Owning a Blackberry, nowadays, is as passé as having a profile on Facebook. Of course, many people (including myself) still have profiles on Facebook simply because nothing better has yet come along (Google Plus didn't quite catch on), just as many of us still hang on to our Blackberries (and we're feeling more miserable every day).

As of last weekend, my Blackberry has been unplugged, my sim card removed, and it now lies dead, dormant, deceased, unused, finito, expired, in my clothes wardrobe underneath my clean boxer shorts where I have buried it. I have taken the step. I am free. I am finally Blackberry-less!

So, now I am back with the old Nokia I used to have before becoming part of the Blackberry generation. There's nothing like rekindling the flames of an old relationship! And anyway, I can phone people with it, it has an alarm clock, and it takes much better pictures than the Blackberry ever did. What more do I need?

So, until I join the realm of the ultra-elite super-rich, and get my own iPhone, or smartphone, or anything with a touch screen, an ordinary Nokia guy I shall remain… and a perfectly satisfied one at that!

PS. Double brandy, anyone?

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