Blackberry or Crackberry? A PDA Culture War

Wyatt Latimer

Wyatt Latimer, wireless and on the go. At a Starbucks in downtown Washington, he juggles e-mail and phone calls while surfing the Web on a laptop. Frank Langfitt, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Frank Langfitt, NPR
Michael Williams, of the Washington-based law firm Hogan & Hartson

Michael Williams, of the Washington-based law firm Hogan & Hartson, says Blackberries are invaluable when coordinating deals. Frank Langfitt, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Frank Langfitt, NPR

For many, the Blackberry is a must-have gadget, a wireless hand-held computer that can send e-mail and make phone calls. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports that as the device wins fans, it's making a cultural impact.

A lingo has sprung up around the devices, with heavy users calling themselves "Crackberry" addicts, referring to the highly addictive form of cocaine. The surreptitious glance downward, head bowed, to check for e-mail during a meeting is referred to as a "Blackberry prayer."

While many users say Blackberries make them more efficient, some researchers — and some spouses, as well — say the wireless devices offer their owners new ways to distract themselves, often annoying others in the process.

Even some habitual Blackberry users acknowledge problems with the devices. But they say the challenge lies in being able to absorb the information at their fingertips, and to multi-task effectively. And according to these users, those worries pale when compared to what might happen when they're caught without their Blackberries: withdrawal.

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