Dear Berry with Mara BlumenthalDear Berry,

First of all, I'm not a BlackBerry owner, nor I have ever used one. However, I work in an office environment where there are a few who love their CrackBerry.  Usually it doesn't bother me at all and other times I feel jealous (since they can check and respond to their email while on the go, and I can't).  Usually I'm quite tolerant of others but today I observed some disturbing behaviour by my fellow co-worker while we were having lunch.  For lunch, four of us decided to go out for Sushi my co-worker proudly placed his CrackBerry on the table.  Ok, so no big deal. During lunch, he would periodically check his berry for new messages (or whatever he was looking at) and this didn't bother me either.  But finally, what really disturbed me was when he was talking to the rest of the attentive group around the table saying "I know this military guy.." then glances at his berry, then says "oh oh" and starts furiously reading his screen without ever excusing himself, leaving everyone else around the table dumbfounded.  Does this person need rehab?  Should I have said or done anything?  What is proper etiquette for BlackBerry use around the table?

Surrounded by BlackBerrys

Dear "Surrounded by Blackberrys",

There are addicted Blackberry users and then there are rude addicted blackberry users! Yes, this particular co-worker needs rehab however he also needs some classes in common courtesy and respect! It sounds like he is a bit of "show-off/center of attention" kind of person in the first place. This might be a huge leap on my part but with everyone sitting at the table attentive to him and then he just "cuts out" of the communication to get back to his Blackberry...well, this leads me to believe my conclusion isn't THAT far of a leap :>) I will be happy to stand corrected though. In
addition, for you to have remarked would not have been inappropriate and would be worth a try once. However, I have my doubts that he would "hear" you or change his behavior!

Technically when at a restaurant table one shouldn't check their Blackberrys. However, for Blackberry users and addicts I don't think this is a reasonable goal unless they are really trying to "separate" from the device. I was recently in a restaurant and I must tell you that I wanted to take pictures for the Crackberry forum of all of the Blackberry users I saw at tables checking their devices. At times, two people at one table and both were checking, it was 8:30 PM. Of course using the camera to intrude on their dinners would have been rude :>) I believe it's possible to check your Blackberry briefly at the table in a discreet manner so everyone else isn't disrupted. Or just check once during the meal and then at the end. During the day, during lunch is during the business day so there is some flexibility from that perspective. However, there is no excuse for his behavior. A simple statement acknowledging that he was apologetic for having to manage incoming information and that he would get to the story at the next lunch would have been and easy thing for him to do and would not have kept all of you just sitting there feeling "left in the lurch".

It sounds like you have been extremely patient in a "sea of Blackberry Addicts", which isn't an easy thing to do. Additionally, admitting you have been jealous at times truly puts you in a special category. Unfortunately, the likelihood for now of the number of Blackberry Addicts becoming smaller is very low. The good news for you is that people are beginning to "burn out" having to be available on such a regular and immediate basis that they are starting to see the need for boundaries. So the people around you will still be addicted however, possibly taking some more time to breathe. As for your co-worker, for him I wish I had better news.