I previously blogged about Quinn Emanuel’s new policy, requiring attorneys to check their blackberrys every hour. I argue this isn’t frequent enough, but I do think this move has some positive societal value, as it helps develop the crackberry culture.
I applaud the powers that be at Quinn. The more depraved crackberry addicts there are, the more normal I look, and the more socially acceptable my bizarre and compulsive behavior becomes.
If you have ever had dinner with D.C. Lawyers, you will no doubt be familiar with the following site: Everyone at the table has their blackberry on the table. At any given time, one or more attendee will be pecking away an e-mail, sending a BBM, updating their twitter with a funny joke they just heard at the table, or researching the answer to a trivia question someone asked.
To those outside the urban jungle, this may seem like absolutely bizarre behavior. The first time I told people in Johnstown, PA about this behavior, they were stunned when I described these social norms. (Of course, I leave my blackberry in my pocket while eating with my Judge.)
But, I argue that the culture is changing.
As more and more people engage in this compulsive crackberry checking, norms change. It becomes less grotesque, and more socially acceptable.
I’m sure at some point it was uncouth to answer a cellular phone at dinner. Now, it is only marginally improper. I think blackberrying should be more proper, mainly because it creates no distracting noise (other than the clicking of the keys), and is usually finished much quicker than placing a phone call (i can read and reply to a message in a few seconds).
Some people are repulsed when I have a conversation with them, while typing on my blackberry, assuming I am not paying attention. I apologize for any offense I may cause, but years of blackberrying have trained me to multitask like a pro. I’ve tested this with my co-clerk, and I can usually follow 80% of a conversation while I’m typing on my blackberry. I submit that this is not much lower than what I would normally follow if I gave someone my undivided attention. From a utility perspective, I would rather be able to have 2 conversations at 80%, than one conversation at 90 or 95%.
For the present, I am still a social anomaly. But I am confident that over the years, my behavior will become more acceptable.
Pioneers always take the arrows.