Bye-bye, BlackBerry
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Ah, my little friend, how I have loved you. The heft of you in my hand. The window you gave me on a world beyond the confines of where I was at any given time. The pleasant rush when you went off in my breast pocket, adjacent to that other rhythmically vibrating organ --my heart. I loved you not wisely, but so well.

Yet now ...

Ah, you. I recall the times I would sit with human friends, pouring out their usual ration of mostly expected anecdotes, quasi-insights, and complaints--the rolling, tedious river of actual discourse--and you would go off near my chest, and I would fish you out despite the utter rudeness (for what kind of love is it that is not willing to risk rudeness to others?), and yes! You would have something new for me. Something atypical, not rote, worthy of immediate thought or response.

Ah, little one. I remember when you came into my life. You were small then, barely the size of a pack of Altoids, with an itty-bitty screen on which so little could be said, and yet so much! Later you grew larger and flatter, and your screen expanded. And I was so proud of you, because you were thinner than anyone else's, and your typeface was pleasant, and my thumbs felt warm with you beneath them, and at times when I craved you I would touch the outside of my sport jacket to see if you were there, and oh, my, if you were not! My heart would trip like an engine that had thrown a piston, and the world would not be right until we were reunited.

Ah, sweet and capable instrument! The things you have shown me in our time! Information about new business prospects that pop up like truffles overnight in your digital field. Amusing messages from friends speaking through their implements to mine, one BlackBerry to another. Important data that shaped my thinking when my mind was occupied with nothing but which wine to select, which exit to take on the Interstate ...

Ah, dangerous love! How many times have I fired off messages, thumbs blazing, while driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour! Was I mad? Yes. I was insane with the potential of our relationship. It was you and I, and when we were in a zone where we could not communicate, when your bars went down to zero, how often did I lean out the window, drive to high ground, weasel my way to another location to see whether I could bring you to life?

Ah! How often did you and I wait together in a restaurant for a tardy companion, only to look around and see everyone else peering into his electronic pal and thumbing madly like a raccoon washing its food in a frosty river? Oh, my plastic fantastic love! My heart is breaking! Hear it breaking? Or at least buzzing with an unhealthy rattle that signifies catastrophic systemic failure?

Because I don't love you anymore.

It started when I got a new incarnation of you. This one is blue. The screen is odd. The font is skinny and sans serif and tough to read. The backlight, too, is feeble and intermittent. You're now ultrasleek and a little bit plump and so up-to-the-minute. Like everything else in this technologically intensive society, you've been improved to the point of being slightly less satisfying in some way. I don't know why that is, but it's true.

And you aren't as receptive as you used to be. Minutes go by, and you don't give me anything. Why was my old one more sensitive? Why do you download my stuff in packets, instead of a steady flow? Is it you I should blame? Or is it I?

Then there's the feeling I get when you go off these days. It's just not the same as it was. Maybe I'm not as eager as I used to be. It's possible that my life in the nondigital realm is more engaging than when you and I were one. I'm at breakfast, or talking to a friend, and you start bugging me. In the old days I'd haul you out and ignore what was in front of me, because you were speaking to something deep and important inside me. Now you just feel like a nag.

I'm sorry, BB. There's no reason this thing has to end badly between us, or even end at all. We can see each other now and then. There are times I'm going to need you, I know that. But the hot-blooded days when you and I told the world to go shove it? Those are over. And if you push me too hard to keep things the way they were, I can't promise I won't just put you in a drawer and forget about you for a good long while.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to step outside and smell the fine, chilly air of early winter, a solitary man on the planet with the actual, honest noises of life around him, me and the universe, face to face, without some digital intermediary. I can't wait to get out there!

Just as soon as I find my goddamned cellphone ...

Stanley Bing's new book, Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the REAL Art of War (HarperBusiness), is available at finer bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at