Thursday 5 August 2010

Apologies for my Blackberry

Well, not mine.  I don't have a Blackberry.  What I'm referring to is a trend I've begun to see in emails from my Blackberry-toting friends and associates at work: adding a signature line apologizing for the fact that the email was sent from their Blackberry.

Originally, the tag line "Sent by Blackberry" was probably RIM's strategy for viral adoption of the device: promoting that this email was sent by someone with a cool new technology gadget.

But lately, I'm seeing signature lines more like the following:  "Please excuse misspellings, sent by Blackberry."   Or "Sent by Blackberry, excuse typos and terse replies."

Am I crazy to think that if you have to apologize for a technology, you might have to rethink why and how you're using it in the first place?

  • Are you misspelling things because you're trying to text and drive? Pull off the road before replying so you can focus on your typing (and on keeping the rest of us alive).
  • Are you sending such a terse reply because it's hard to type on the tiny keyboard? Could your reply wait until you get back to the office, when you could send a more thorough reply? Just because you CAN respond immediately, does every incoming email require an immediate reply at the risk of offending the recipient?
  • Are you sending a short reply because you're in a meeting or with someone else? Is the person you're replying to that much more important than those sitting with you, that it's worth disrespecting those in the room?

Text is such an unforgiving medium, that people are forced to read between the lines when interpreting the messages they receive. Right or wrong, a very short reply is often seen as a sign that the sender is angry or upset.  Right or wrong, typos make the sender look like someone who doesn't care enough to correct them before sending, or worse, doesn't know how to spell in the first place.

Granted that the Blackberry is a very useful device, and judging by its nickname ("Crackberry") highly engaging to use. But if you have to apologize for it, maybe you're using it wrong.

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