Blackberry network outage causes widespread panic.

As you've probably heard on the Net, or maybe on the major news shows (I don't know, seeing as how I don't watch television unless you put a glass of bourbon in my hand and a gun to my head), the network underlying RIM's Blackberry PDAs was offline for a while, which left many people without mobile instant message and e-mail traffic for about a day. Now, I can see how this can be an inconvenience when you're on the Metro or at the store and you need to be on call for something, but if this article is to be believed (and I'm honestly not too sure if it should be) there were people freaking out because their Blackberries weren't working. You'd think that there'd suddenly been a run on heroin or something - one person started taking apart their Blackberry to see if there was anything that they could fix; another was quoted as talking about her "Blackberry brothers and sisters."

Let me see if I've got this straight: The Blackberry is now a life support system for a sizable group of people in the United States these days. Without it, people can't stay in touch or keep their lives organized.

I think that people grossly underestimate the benefits of jacking out once in a while. Maybe I'm being a little bit old-fashioned about this, or maybe I'm just glad that I'm not on 24x7 call anymore, but let's take things down to brass tacks. The Blackberry is a PDA that lets you read the news and check your e-mail. It's not a ventilator that breathes for you. It's not an artificial heart. It's not a SCUBA tank. It's a chunk of plastic with a CPU, some RAM, and an LCD display. The world isn't going to end if you can't check your e-mail. Your life will not come to a close if you can't glance at an RSS feed. You will not become like Richard Mayhew in Neverwhere if your cellphone can't connect to the grid. It won't kill you to stop sending two-line e-mails for a day and go for a walk down the street.