The point is not whether technologies like smartphones actually make us more or less connected to one another–that’s a cheap, pat question whose answer is best left to trade books and TED talks. The point is that technologies like the Blackberry change our social fabric in ways that we often cannot see, and therefore cannot fully reason about. McLuhan argued that technologies can never be fully grasped in the present, but only after we establish some distance from them. Today we lament the downfall of Research In Motion as if it were an athlete whose prodigious career was cut short by hubris. But perhaps the truth is even weirder than that. Ruined or not, Blackberry has left us with the most distinctive social tic since cigarettes. And cigarettes may be deadly and disgusting, but they’re cool and chic too. Live or die this quarter, such will be the meaning of Blackberry in the long-term: the sensuous richness of the idea of new information at any moment, and the frothing, blooming world that spins unseen while we fondle our devices in search of something else.
The Cigarette of This Century - The Atlantic —