Are you a social media addict?

I have a confession to make: I think I am.

And I wonder if you may be one too.  Worried? Not sure where to turn? Do you want to know the signs?

If so, please check out the guest post I did on the Spin Sucks blog.  Anonymity is guaranteed; no one will know you read it…

And by the way, I hate to admit it, but  even though it’s a holiday in Ontario, I’m still online writing about it.

Special thanks to @ginidietrich and @danielhindin for asking me.

Let me know if you have any more symptoms to add – and if we should start a virtual 12-Tweet meetup.


Becoming ‘Bold’

Not too long ago, I mentioned I was going to upgrade to a Blackberry Bold and I did get one. (Hey, iPhones may be super cool, but that’s just never been me.)

After a bit of back and forth trying to find one in a store, I asked to have it shipped. It arrived the next day in a premium black box, which served to heighten my excitement. Inside, I found a device that was sleeker and lighter than I expected, with a faux leather back that made it seem almost high end.

Unfortunately, it took a couple of calls to Rogers to get it up and running properly, but that’s par for the course – like lining up for toilet paper in the old USSR.

Here’s what I like about the Bold:

  • It looks and feels modern – like when Cadillac changes its design. I know that’s superficial… but sue me.
  • It’s faster – especially when surfing the internet. And the graphic interface is similar to a regular browser.
  • The resolution is sharper.
  • The sound is clearer – I don’t need to keep my phone volume pumped up when I’m using it in a taxi or outside.
  • I also like the additional functions – camera, video record and playback capability, default alarm music (I know I can change it if I want) and the fact that there’s an image of an analog watch when it’s being charged. A touch of nostalgia, almost.
  • Though it took me a couple of days to get used to the functions, I’m enjoying the track ball in the middle better than the rotary side control.

Here’s what I’m not crazy about:

  • The battery and phone heat up more quickly, say if I’m on it for more than five minutes.
  • It takes a long, long time to sync to my Outlook – I may be doing something wrong, but this is how tech support told me to set it up.
  • It’s got an MP3 player, but I doubt I’ll use it much. It feels like a business device, not something I’d find myself bopping away to as I work the treadmill at the gym.

So what’s the verdict? If I believed in thumbs up, I’d give it a couple.

I am glad I switched. And, if you have the time and are due for an upgrade. It’s worth the call centre wait.

A ‘Bold’ failure to communicate

I’ve been having a few email issues lately. Mostly related to my Blackberry.

Sometimes, when I forward an email, random words (and even whole sentences) get cut up, deleted and garbled (or as one email said, rbld). It’s as if I’m writing in a bizarre IM-ish shorthand code.

So after checking with my office tech support, I finally called Rogers, knowing I’d have to commit a fair amount of time on the phone. But I was determined to weather the situation, accept my fate and not get riled up. And sure enough over the next couple of days, I had four calls and spent three hours attempting to upload, download, reload and resolve things.

And, I have to say the people at the other end were pleasant, funny and helpful. They concluded the issue was with my BB itself and not their network and they said I qualified for an upgrade – e.g. a new device at a discount. (A backhanded sales ploy or what?)

But a chatty rep from Sudbury rejigged my plan to save me money and offered me such a good deal that I couldn’t pass up the idea of getting a new BB Bold. She gave me the option of having it couriered to me (3 to 5 days) or, if I didn’t want to wait, I could pick it up directly from a Rogers store.

Being in Toronto and excited about a new toy, I opted for the latter. I went to a store near my office and discovered they hadn’t received their stock yet. No worries. Another Rogers outlet was a few blocks away. They, too, didn’t get their shipment and weren’t sure when they were going to arrive. Try back later, was all they could muster by way of help.

I was starting to lose my state of zen, but I didn’t give up…

An hour later, and completely un-Boldened, I returned to my office, frustrated and hot under the collar yet again.

I wondered if the bare shelves was a Rogers ploy to increase demand (a la iPhone). But there were no line-ups at the stores. Then I thought it’s more likely a logistical screw-up (so what else is new).

Either way, Rogers missed yet another opportunity to truly connect with their customers (rather than holding us hostage). And all they had to do was provide a simple update; communicate with their retail front-line.

I’m still waiting for my Bold but I’ll let you know what it’s like when I get it.

Don’t take it out so much in public

By it, I’m referring to cell phones, Blackberries and other personal communication devices (yes, walkie talkies count).

I realize I’m not the first to say this, and yes, I am guilty of the habit, but I noticed a scenario yesterday that helped me see things under a new LCD light.

A ’40-something daughter was eating dinner with her elderly parents. It appeared as if she hadn’t seen them in a while; they were snapping photos, having the waiter take a few shots, chatting, etc. Then, mid-conversation, the daughter took out her BB and began reading it and sending messages. It was as if her parents were no longer there.

Yes, I was eavesdropping – or should I say observing – but this struck me as just plain rude behaviour (and also struck an embarrassing chord). And I had to restrain myself from taking my own BB out and looking at it (knowing full-well that it was a Saturday evening and there was nothing of import).

Which made me wonder: do we have to be that connected every moment of the day? Have we all become like on-call doctors, waiting to be summoned to ER? Our public device-scanning obsession is a lot like talking to someone at a party but constantly looking over their shoulder to see if someone better is coming by.

And I know smoking is no longer acceptable, but picture this: after a nice dinner and some great conversation, two people have a coffee and light up a cigarette. Yes, it’s bad for you (disclaimer inserted to avoid politically correct comments). But what a way to share a moment (and in old movies it sure looked great).

Now, imagine the situation except replace cigarette with Blackberry. It just isn’t the same.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying not to read emails when I walk on the street and I think I’m successful almost 70 per cent of the time. Occasionally, I’ll pull it out (habit) and pretend I’m just looking at the time, but all the while scanning to see how many new messages I received in the last 10 minutes.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is I’m going to attempt to be more discreet about my BB use and urge you to do the same (and by discreet, I don’t mean holding it under a table at a meeting and thumbing away).

My goal is to not look at it so incessantly; to shut it off more at home; to pay more attention to the people actually around me.

Sure, there will always be reasonable exceptions; times when you need to send an email or take the call. But maybe, like being more eco-friendly, we should all conserve a little bit.

Filed from the 2008 Counselors Academy conference.