WEB UPDATE: Column: Don’t catch Blackberry fever

Posted Friday, July 8, 7:00 p.m. In my quest to become a top-notch professional political operative, I have found that there is only one thing that is really holding me back from my full potential. I don’t have a Blackberry.

Most of you probably have no idea what a Blackberry is, so let me bring you up to speed. A Blackberry is a palm-sized portable e-mail device with a miniature keyboard that uses cell phone networks to instantaneously deliver your e-mail to you, no matter how hard you’re trying to avoid it.

Most importantly, a Blackberry is the quintessential symbol of the D.C. professional. Absolutely everyone who is anyone has one. Therefore, in order to become the West Wing senior advisor I dream of being, I need a Blackberry.

My personal desire for a Blackberry stems from particularly cruel encounters with the handheld devices in my last three years of working in the professional political world. From working on a presidential campaign and for the British Labour Party, it seemed everyone in the world had one but me. I really want a Blackberry.

Once you know what a Blackberry is, it’s hard to walk around this city and not notice that they’re everywhere. Jobs in the swamp-city give them out like candy; they are the primary fashion accessory down at the Capitol, and even Jay-Z has his own.

I can almost guarantee that there are two types of GW students reading this: those who have no idea what a Blackberry is and those who also desperately want one.

Most of those GW students who want a Blackberry are in a rush to ascend to the next level of influence in the corridors of power; some of us covet the little status symbols that we think announce to world that yes, we are important. We drive ourselves to the next level by focusing on something that gets us one step closer to that goal. It starts with the prized unpaid internship, followed by the sweet letter of recommendation that most of us typed ourselves and got our bosses to sign when they weren’t paying attention. Then, there is the paid internship that letter got us. The Blackberry.

So the Blackberry becomes that inevitable metaphor for the intersection of college life, the real world, and politics that you can only find at GW. This university gives us the unparalleled advantage of location as well as the double challenge of managing life in the real world and college at the same time. In our quest to get a four-year head start over everyone else we rarely consider that we may only be setting ourselves up to burn out four years before everyone else.

I have to admit that when I stopped to examine my own desire for a Blackberry, it had a lot less to do with wanting to be able to e-mail from everywhere than it should have. It was a lot more about wanting to be a part of the D.C. establishment as soon as possible. The hardest thing to find at GW is that balance between the two worlds of who you want to be and how much fun you can have getting there. While I’ve never heard anyone who regretted not getting their Blackberry soon enough, I know more than a few D.C. professionals who regret not having a better time in college. I don’t want to be the guy who sacrificed some of his best memories of college for a vibrating piece of plastic clipped to my belt.

That is why I couldn’t help but smile when I got an e-mail while writing this from my friend Kyle with the subject: “Guess What I got?” It was signed at the bottom with “sent wirelessly from my Blackberry Handheld.” Someday, Kyle, I’ll be able to send you a biting reply back instantly – just not today – and I think I’m ok with that.

-The writer is a senior majoring in political communication.

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