Plato said "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." This is particularly true if you meet someone using a BlackBerry, perhaps the hardest of all battles. But they don't deserve pity. Around BlackBerry users, we must remember manners, courtesy, and a few basic rules of kindness.
Gadget snobbery is never OK. It's ignorant and obnoxious to tell someone they're a bad person because of a phone (unless that phone is a Galaxy Note). Within the rest of the handset nebula, you should let your fellow man stand by his choice.
But BlackBerry owners are different. They were once a haughty, QWERTY-clutching elite—bankers, lawyers, Illuminati chairmen, Yale professors, and various other broad-jawed goons from the corridors of power. No more. The RIM faithful are the people who got left out of the doomsday vault—the Japanese soldiers still wandering around the jungle waiting to snipe GIs. They're at a point beneath teasing. We need to start giving them sympathy. We have to coexist.
Your typical BlackBerry user doesn't use it because they want to—they use it because they have to. Maybe their Paleolithic employer probably requires it—it's still a requisite for modern business in someone's faded brain. Or maybe they can't afford a new phone. Or maybe they really, really love a good keyboard, which can't be found elsewhere. Maybe they're chained to a family plan. The point is: They have no other options.
So you can't fault someone for using a BlackBerry, because nobody really wants to be using a BlackBerry. Have you ever made fun of someone for using a wheelchair? Probably not. If you have, you're awful.
"Dude, you're still using a BlackBerry?"
Yeah, they are, dickhead. You know they are. Highlighting the misfortune of others isn't going to get anyone to make out with you. And a BlackBerry user isn't going to change their ways because of your ridicule. They know they have a BlackBerry. Whatever the reason is, it's their business. When they make a call, just look away, and try to smile.
Unless it's on a hip-holster, in which case, walk away.
RIM still has one thing going for it: BBM is the best phone messaging system of all time. It makes iMessage look like a poopy diaper. Giving your friend's 'Berry the respect it deserves for instant, reliable phone IMing is a good way to establish common ground. Sample conversation:
You: "Oh, man, I wish my phone had BBM. It's still the best."
Them: "I want to die."
When you see someone pushing a busted bicycle along the side of a dark, muddy road, you don't just leave them there. You give them a ride. Open your door—this is a metaphor—and let a BB user borrow your phone for a second. Sample conversation:
Them: "Hey, do you mind if I check the Orioles score? I'm following them in the World Series."
You: "Um, sure!"
Share what luxury you have. Let them use your phone's snappy browser. For a moment, you both feel content. Until they learn the truth about the Flock.
Be understanding. Be generous. Be nice. Because someday, you might be on the bottom rung of the social ladder, still clinging to your hopelessly outdated old iPhone.
Photo: Brian Ach/Getty
User Manual is Gizmodo's guide to etiquette. It appears as if by magic every Friday.