Friday, December 18, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Of Smartphones and sanity

‘Tis the season for tinsel, for impromptu smooching underneath the mistletoe, and in my case, the annual barrage of emails, texts and calls from my wireless provider, begging me to upgrade my antiquated flip-phone to a flashier, Web-enabled model.

Call me Luddite. Call me cheap (you wouldn’t be the first): I will not get a Smartphone.

Like many Just Business readers, I find myself caught in the middle of a delicate high-wire balancing act between the competing pressures of work and home, with a blurry vision of peaceful retreat becoming more and more a mirage on the horizon.

So being able to check my email, Facebook profile or Twitter feed anytime, anywhere might be just the thing that sends me over the edge – to a career in public relations perhaps, or government, where Blackberrys are as much an appendage as a suit-and-tie at a GOP fundraiser.

It’s a struggle I’ve been hearing a lot about recently, from professionals looking for guidance about returning an urgent work email, call or text during a family dinner to the small businessman burnt-out from being in constant contact with clients, employees or investors.

There’s no doubt: business is a 24/7 proposition. There is a market open somewhere on the globe every minute of almost every day. The recent financial crisis reminded many investors about what can happen in the span between Sunday night and Monday morning in terms of life-savings lost, careers ended and businesses going under.

But it is still incumbent upon us as fathers, daughters or friends to connect occasionally with actual people – not just a glowing LCD screen.

So look down at your iPhone, your HTC Hero or Droid. Appreciate its design, its ease of use and its convenience. Now power it down.

Take a deep breath. Isn’t that better?

O.K., you can it turn it back on again.

That Facebook update, Tweet or email you just missed probably wasn’t that important, anyway.