Dear Mr. Putin: Here’s Why You Should Help Save My Beloved BlackBerry
Perhaps it’s too much to ask, but I’m hoping that somehow, some way, the Russians can save my BlackBerry.
This article originally appeared in the August 22, 2016 issue of TIME.
I’ve been trying to follow this summer’s email-hacking stories, which seem to have as many twists as Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s hair. But I keep getting distracted by grief. You see, I’m mourning the impending demise of the traditional BlackBerry, which has been my friend, my confidante, my loyal servant and–most important–my reliable email provider since George W. ran our country. I love my BlackBerry the way Vladimir Putin no doubt loves his role in this nutty U.S. election. That is: mysteriously, gleefully, boundlessly.
When BlackBerry announced in July that it would soon discontinue the Classic model, known for its iconic raised keyboard, I had to leave work and go straight to the nearest bar. I’m not quite sure what transpired, but when I woke up the next day, I was missing my watch, wedding ring and wallet, but my BlackBerry was still in my hand. Because who wants a BlackBerry? Oh, right. I do.
Sure, things have gotten awkward. I have become such a mobile-device conversation piece, such a weird almost-throwback, that when I pull my BlackBerry out on the subway, people look at me like I’m wearing pantaloons. Recently I was in a work meeting, and a colleague fake-whispered to everyone around us, “Kristin … still … has … a … BlackBerry.” All eyes turned to me with a look that said, Oh, you poor, poor pantaloon-wearing thing. Someone should call for help.
There is a reason you can Google “text message mistakes” and get a gazillion results, each more hilarious than the next. Two words: flat keyboard. When the magnanimous side of my brain is feeling particularly shocked about some of Donald Trump’s tweets, those are the words I repeat to myself: flat keyboard. He can’t really mean those unhinged things he types. Maybe he just has thick fingers and a disabled auto-correct. Not that auto-correct necessarily does the trick: when my kids are bored and stuck in my presence, they sidle up to watch me text on my iPhone (yes, I have one of those too–don’t ask), because I need to go back and correct every third word. It’s like going to the Mom Circus. The greatest show on earth. To which I say: Hey kids, see all those people walking down the street, bumping into each other, random trees and light posts while attempting to text and walk? If they had BlackBerrys, they could type without looking! And no, that’s not bragging. Simply a statement of fact.
Where does Russia come in? Turns out the Russians are wearing pantaloons too. Because no one sends email anymore! At least no one under age 35, and those are the people who will be running the world before Putin and I even have time to master the flat keyboard. Based on the behavior of my two college-age children, the chance of their reading emails from me hovers well below the approval ratings of both presidential candidates: that is, far less than 50%. (Remember when people said you must choose your words in email as carefully as if 1,000 people would read it? These days you are lucky to get one person.) And so, my Russian friends, in case you’re wondering why the news of your alleged hacking of that dying form of communication quickly pivoted to Trump’s bone spurs, well, that’s why.
So if you really want to make an impact, you should figure out how to hack texts. Or Snapchat. That’s where the real power is–or will be.
But never mind, as that would do nothing for the save-my-BlackBerry campaign. If you persist in believing that email matters and that hacking email is the best way to do a little realpolitik, then I propose we persuade your spies to hack into my email. It’s a win-win. We will both make news, and my BlackBerry will once again become valuable, this time not as a perfect device for the flat-keyboard-challenged but as an item of vital national-security importance.
Or we both wait until emailing and BlackBerrys come back into fashion, in another 20 years or so. Last month my 18-year-old asked if he could have my old turntable, and the other day I caught him listening to Hall and Oates. And so I know it’s just a matter of time before he’s going to find an email from me, actually read it and maybe even hit Reply.