Please Set Your Blackberry on Fire. Right Now.

January 16, 2007

Several years ago, I was a true corridor crawler, spending all day every day going meeting to meeting to meeting. We reorganized the company a few years ago, and the resulting structure and physical layout eliminated 90% of the internal meetings that wasted the days away.

In the intervening years, some aspects of meeting culture have changed. Take, for example, a meeting I was invited to this week where there were about 10 to 12 people from our office and 10 to 12 people from corporate headquarters.

All of the headquarters people sporting the previous-generation Blackberry. The guy next to me spent the entire hour clicking away at a distracting 40 words per minute, oblivious to the nasty stares of those around him.

These big gadgets are too wide for the average pocket, so they sport them on their belt clips a la Batman and Robin. I heard one of my coworkers liken them to carrying around a piece of toast. It would be a very cool look, if it were only 1996.

I don't want to seem like I'm picking on just my corporate counterparts; many of them were as annoyed as I was. Also, this was the third meeting in the past couple of months where there were participants who pretended to pay attention while pecking away on their gizmos, and all were with entirely different groups of people. People who don't even know each other or have any interaction. When did this become okay in the normal office etiquette?

It's clear enough that the people don't care about learning the information that they're supposed to get from these presentations? So why don't they just excuse themselves and quit annoying the rest of us with their incessant little tap-tap-tapping? I'm not asking these questions rhetorically. I truly don't understand.

As an aside, the big boss did pause during his introduction of me to tell the other people from corporate, "Ben has a very funny blog site which you should never, ever read."

Sage advice, for sure.