2.OH NO!: Why should we do without?



Before the trend of slapping “Beta” at the end of your product’s title to entice onlookers and the like, corporations seemed to tag “2.0″ on the end to show advancement and improvement. But this new column is going to be a commentary on exactly how well this supposed “advanced” and “improved” 2.0 society is doing. And thankfully, there’s more than enough fuel for the fire.

Earlier this week we showed a video of Forbes editor Dennis Kneale nearly being brought to his knees at the removal of all of his connectivity - email, cell phone, BlackBerry - all removed as part of a segment called “Could You Do Without” on Today. He didn’t make it through the 5 days the segment had hoped for and this week I ask the question - should he have had to?

People who’ve managed to become so wired-in have been the topic of boatloads of scrutiny from those who aren’t as connected. Well, those who aren’t connected as well as doctors and psychological professionals. They say we rely on these devices too much and we’ve lost the human connection and interaction from our everyday lives. Now, while I don’t disagree completely, there’s an argument to be made, especially for us BlackBerry users.

First, let’s touch on the bad. It’s true - people are starting to replace social interaction with emails and text messages - intangibles that, from day to day, seem to increase in importance. It started with the corporate user first, the go-getter who only wanted to get ahead, and suddenly a BlackBerry became a tool needed for success, everyone began adopting them, and now connectivity is at an all-time high. We’re more familiar with email addresses than phone numbers, avatars to faces, LOL’s to hearty (and healthy) laughs.

To me, though, the good more than outweighs the bad.

While so many are trying to put down BlackBerry users, they’re not focusing on the good that can come from them. We’re not talking about settling bets (although that’s definitely a perk), but if anything, we’re piling more responsibility onto our plates, having ourselves readily available at all time to stand behind our work. If someone has a problem with a post I made and makes a comment at one in the a.m. and I’m still up and about, I’ll take the time to email them back and deal with it then.

That’s on a very, very small scale. Imagine what an upper-level exec has on their plate, and they welcome it with the addition of the BlackBerry to their list of gadgets.

A big argument that seems to always be tossed our way is that 10 years ago we didn’t have BlackBerrys and got along just fine, so why are they so integral now? Well, non-observant member of society, have you noticed how much things have changed? If anything, the BlackBerry is an adaptation to the evolving business world - enabling those who want the ability to work when they want, where they want, how they want, and any other of the 5W’s that fit.

In Kneale’s case, the tears started because of fear that his daughter couldn’t connect with him while he traveled out of town on business. And come on - to a parent, connectivity these days is a must. I talked about the business world and how it’s grown - what about the general state of the world?

Missing children reports, articles on increased violence in today’s youth, and other issues bring more worry to a CEO with a child than any annual report could (or at least that’s the way it should be). That connectivity is a must, and why not couple that communication with work on a BlackBerry - you know, for efficiency sake.

So while the Today segment asks “Could you do without?”, I ask, “why SHOULD we?” Is it really hurting anything other than our thumbs? Is it really that big of a concern? Hasn’t anyone heard of Global Warming?

There’s plenty more arguments to be made - be sure to check out the weekly contest tomorrow. I’ll be asking all of you whether or not the BlackBerry is more of a hindrance than help. And while I know a lot of you will support the device, I want to know why. And I’d especially like to know if there are any detractors out there reading, too.