As I write this post, before me sits a black box.

And atop that black box is something that could either be seen as the best early Christmas present a working professional like myself could ever receive …

Or possibly the one thing that will slaughter any chance of a normal life outside of work …

A Blackberry.

In the years since it first burst onto the marketplace of electronic gagdets, I’ve happily gone through my adult life Blackberry-free, perfectly content to use my cellphone to (a) call people or (b) text-message them.

But since my recent job change, the new regime now requires everyone in positions like mine to have one.

Mine arrived sometime around 1:30 p.m. this afternoon.

The first few hours I had it in my possession, I just kept moving the box around my desk.

A bit later on, I did spend a couple of moments trying to open the box to look at it, but gave up pretty quickly.

Seriously? I was already having trouble opening the box. How was I going to operate the actual device?

Then I figured, if I had to wait 5 or so years to get one, I could hang on for a few more hours.

Which brings me this moment. It sits on top of the opened box, brand-new, the protective plastic coating still plastered on … and the various accessories – SIM card, holster, phone headset, etc. – sitting inside.

Part of me is fascinated by the whole thing. I mean, hello, pretty new toy. Who in this century, in this modern Western society, wouldn’t be curious?

Another part of me’s glad I no longer have to use my personal cellphone minutes to handle a barrage of calls and messages from seven different people while I’m out in the field.

But the largest part of me is eyeing this device with suspicion and anxiety.

It IS nicknamed The Crackberry for a good reason.

I’ve already seen people in meetings and walking through my workplace in the assumed position of Blackberry owners: head down, intently texting a response to whatever message they’re responding to.

That’s my worst fear: losing basic social interaction with my family, friends, OTHER HUMAN BEINGS, because my eyes are glued to that tiny monitor, and my calloused thumbs are pressing away at those TINY keys.

And what about “Blackberry-quette”?

Like, CAN I turn off my Blackberry at night so I can sleep? Or do I just leave it on so I don’t risk being THAT person: The One Who Missed The Call or Message in The Middle of The Night instead of getting out of bed and going to work?

(Well, perhaps that’s a bit far-fetched, but not completely impossible.)

Do I carry it with me at all times? Even on my days off?

I mean, when does it stop?

DOES it EVER stop?

Will I end up cross-eyed with arthritic opposing thumbs?

Look, I’m no Luddite, by any means.

But at a time in my life – and in 21st-century society – where I’m pretty convinced my attention span is now the same as a  five-year-old’s, because of  my work environment AND my habits  in the age of modern technology …

Will I lose it all to a device of mass distraction?