Bing Blog

BlackBerry Autism: A worldwide phenomenon

Blackberry in Womb

A happy Monday to you. It's a stop and smell the neurosis morning. The sky here in New York is a deep and trusty blue, the air has the tang of autumn soccer in it, and the first leaves in the park are starting to turn. It's days like these you want to open your window, lean out and inhale what is probably the best air we're likely to get for a while. Too bad they don't open -- our windows. The best we can do in this particular corporate tower is peer out at all the little people in the street enjoying the weather. My, they look happy.

Quite a few of you wrote in to either spank or thank me about my little tale of BlackBerry autism I offered last week. My favorite came from Michael in London, who writes:

Hi Stanley, had similar experience on flight from Dubai to London except in my case I was treated to all the emotions that your bloke didn’t seem to share. Before we had even received complimentary drinks, we heard the roars of good news I assume, followed by hmmmm, wonder what was next, it came just as we left the tarmac, it was “oh b**ger”, when I looked at him he didn’t even muster up an apology or some flippant British comment, instead he met my gaze then looked straight back down. So on we go, through the turmoil of mutterings of oh I know better, all the way through to pain. The good point came for me when as I was getting ready to prepare to stand up he practically pushed past me, being never the quiet one, I asked him if he had left his manners in Dubai to which he was amazed and said “sorry boy I didn’t see you”. The only possible sweet & sour of such a story would be that as I picked up my baggage he was still standing hovering over his blackberry oblivious to the world passing, so there maybe an advantage to these anti-social devices after all!!!

p.s. the world goes on when you are in the sky, sleeping and driving so please don’t try to alter it, business was here before you and will be here when you’re long gone, enjoy the journey and look around, the girl/boy of your dreams or a perfect network opportunity may just pass you by otherwise.

Thanks, Michael. It may be, in the future, that there will be two types of people: the wired and the unwired. The first will quite literally be just that, outfitted with subcutaneous nano-filiments and micro-implants that make pocket devices unnecessary and render each person a walking bluetooth pod. The second group will have made the conscious decision NOT to join that new subspecies of homo sapiens, choosing instead to concentrate on the sapiens aspect of their makeup than their electronically enhanced counterparts.

I know where I'll be. How about you?

10 Comments Add Comment

Waiting for the knee-jerks and the flamers, who'll read the end of the article and assume that, since you referred to the non-wired types as focusing on the "sapiens" aspect, then you must be calling the wired types "homos."

Do as I do. Carry a hammer. I've nicely smashed six Blackberries so far of impolite and inconsiderate users.

Jay in Manhattan, I'm going to assume that you're kidding. Would you bludgeon a sick puppy? BlackBerry Autism is an acquired illness that CAN be cured (usually by unemployment). Its sufferers are more to be helped than censured or, certainly, attacked with blunt instruments.

My boss is a victim of iPhone Autism. I don't know how he lived without a BlackBerry before the iPhone.


Would you mind very much if I borrowed your blog on "Blackberry Autism"?

I'm thinking of doing a piece on obsessive socialisation and this piece has some very usable bits. Notably, there seems to be some consensus that meaningless chit chat is preferable to focussed work even on an aircraft and among strangers, which is interesting.


The wired and the unwired..... kind of like the borg and the rest of the universe in Star Trek.....

Ahh the wired people. Considering that computers get infected by viruses, attacked by hackers, spammed up with adware, and outdated quickly, why would anybody want one of those inside their body?

Every 18 months, you'd have to have an operation to have the old machine removed and a newer, faster, "better" one installed. Imagine the waiting at the computer store to have your implanted computer reloaded because it got infected with a virus or someone hacked it or loaded 24 hour a day ad generator.

hmmm. can't wait to see those wired people lined up for the repairs. You know, maybe we should be in the medical field.

I’d like to add yet one more time, since my prior comments don’t seem to have cut any mustard, that I have ABSOLUTELY NO INTENTION of making fun of anybody autistic, or their families, or indeed anybody who is disabled in any way. I would never do that, and I’m not kidding. I am interested in the effect of all this electronic communication on human behavior, and I don’t believe the comparison I am suggesting is totally out of place. Just mentioning the name of something, or comparing something to it, is not making fun of it. Obviously, people addicted to their BlackBerrys and cell phones are not actually autistic. But there are aspects of autism that do show themselves in people who have become reliant on their wireless communicators. Why that should be I don’t know. But I don’t think it’s a rude point to make, or a pointless question to ask. And no disrespect is intended. Okay? Thanks.

I think we understand that you don't intend to make fun of autistic people.

The problem is the statement unintentionally reinforces stereotypes and stigma associated with autism to an audience that is most likely not familiar with autism (but thinks they are due to media exposure).

Of course, if we eliminated all potentially offensive comments, we'd have to think harder to come up with humorous material...

Frankly, I'm of the mind that the problem is not the technology, but the person. The technology just makes idiosyncrasies more visible. And being one that tends to think aloud, I'd be thrilled if the person next to me ignored my every little comment, and I might be inclined to ignore theirs, not realizing they were talking to me.

I also think someone with their nose buried in a book would react very much the same way as one with it buried in a blackberry. Only reading is considered a much more laudable preoccupation by most of society, and wouldn't bother most people. As a matter of fact, some would consider it rude to interrupt the reader...

ms navi

No one here is unintelligent enough to confuse the real condition of autism, with its many nuances of symptoms and severities over which the afflicted individual has very little control, with the choice-driven condition being described here. Nice try.