When cell phones began being widely banned, New Yorkers with communication fixations switched to checking their BlackBerrys obsessively. When P. Diddy spent last year’s Victoria’s Secret show ignoring the models to focus on his e-mailing, looking up just once to holler at Naomi Campbell, it was clear the issue had reached a tipping point. Now a BlackBerry backlash is under way.
Event planner Jen Blumin was forced to curb her BlackBerry dependency to preserve her social life. “My new rule is to not bring my BlackBerry out drinking, since I’ve been sending lame drunken e-mails to people, in cabs, and they get them in the morning sober,” she says. Douglas Elliman broker Michael Shvo admits his ex-girlfriend may have dumped him for “sleeping with” his BlackBerry, but he won’t give it up, citing the gadget as an ideal tool for travelers: “Right now I’m on a mountain in Israel. I couldn’t use my cell, so I’m BlackBerrying.” He also e-mails from the treadmill at the Reebok Sports Club/NY, where cell phones are prohibited.
“I bring my BlackBerry when cell phones aren’t allowed in a restaurant,” confirms nightclub owner Noah Tepperberg, who concedes that pulling out the device during a meal irritates other diners. “I’ve been at dinners where I’ve wanted to say something but I didn’t want to say it across the table, and I’m like, ‘Check your BlackBerry.’ ”
The connection compulsion has resulted in scorn for the contraption, but in cell-phone-free zones, it’s undeniably discreet. Sarah Jessica Parker got her Sex and the City claque to use their BlackBerrys to e-mail her about the gowns at an L.A. awards show while she was home pregnant, and she seldom attends an event without her own. “Her purses are usually too small to carry it, so I end up holding it in the greenroom,” says her publicist, Ina Treciokas. “I call it a CrackBerry.”
Recently, though, even Puffy has determined to kick his addiction. “He has retired his BlackBerry while doing A Raisin in the Sun,” says his publicist, Lois Najarian. “You can only reach him through his office or at home—if you’re lucky enough to have the number.”