Hell, the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said, is other people. Washingtonians learned that the hard way this past week when horror of horrors their beloved BlackBerrys stopped working.
The problem or so our overlords at Research in Motion, BlackBerry's parent company, told us began in Europe (no surprise there) and spread to Africa, the Middle East, India and, finally and most importantly, Washington.
Capitol Hill, the center of the BlackBerry universe and a symbolic Alamo standing against an overwhelming iPhone army, ground to a halt. Congressional staffers, used to ignoring the humans around them and using their constant BlackBerrying as a sign of their importance in the political food chain, were left peering at their tiny black devices, hoping against hope that some message any message! might appear.
Research in Motion apologized for the three-daydisruption, but the damage was done. The company's stock tumbled 2.5 percent in the wake of the troubles; for the year, RIM stock has lost more than 60 percent of its value.
And perhaps most impactfully, for many BlackBerry users, those of us who have long fought the good fight against the cultural coolness of all things Apple, the outage amounted to a final indignity. That, and the fact the new iPhone 4s came out on Friday, of course.
Research in Motion, for forcing us to actually talk to one another, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.