Blackberry Addicts

Panamanians never seemed hesitant to take phone calls. In a couple of occasions at meetings I attended, people who had the floor and were in the middle of sharing an idea stopped to answer their phones. When I saw a film from Spain at a European film festival in Panama City, no fewer than three people picked up their phones and started talking in the theater. A song by Comando Tiburón, a group of Panamanian DJs, that was getting a lot of airtime during my stay in Central America sums it up well. Part of “She’s Not Here for Me (Blackberry Addict):”

She doesn’t want to drink,
She doesn’t want to chat,
She comes to the club but that babe doesn’t want to dance.
Nobody matters to her, she’s paying attention to just one thing –
To her cell phone…

Look at her, look at her
She’s a Blackberry addict.
It can’t be controlled
She’s a Blackberry addict.

She’s obsesed with BBM,
Checking all night she doesn’t even dance well
She’s got Facebook and Myspace,
Always connected to MSN.

If you’re interested in watching the music video of this song (full of explicit language and scantily clad women talking on cell phones), it’s here.

At the movie theater, the film’s soundtrack was very quiet, which made the phone answering even more egregious. The flipside of the Blackberry Addiction is that Panamanians also don’t seem to hesitate to express what’s on their mind. While my tendency is to quietly suffer someone picking up their phone, these instances of phone answering, as well as people rustling in their popcorn buckets, were greeted with a number of loud “Shhh!s”. People were also indignant about the quietness of the soundtrack, repeatedly shouting “¡¿Volumen?!” and eliminating any chance for me to hear or understand the film.