It?s the Messaging, Stupid

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

I knew it all along. Now I have proof. A University of London study found that incessant use of email and text messaging lowers your IQ by 10 points. Ha! Those smug little people with their noses constantly buried in their BlackBerry devices think they're so smart! Yeah, right.

That 10-point drop is an average across all study participants. For some unexplained reason, male IQ declined five points and female IQ dropped 15 points. No doubt, men will boast of their ability to engage in messaging tasks with less harm to their intelligence, while women will suggest that the reason for the difference is that they have so many more points of IQ to begin with that the extra 10 points don't matter. I'm sure there are far better jokes about the difference between the sexes, but the political correctness squad would arrest me for publishing them, so I won't even bother to try to think of one. Besides, I've just finished checking my email, and that's probably rendered me incapable of thinking of one.

The research suggests that the IQ drop from emailing and text messaging is roughly on par with what you would experience after a sleepless night. So what would happen if the reason you had a sleepless night was that you were too busy answering email and text messages? I don't know the answer, but if you're planning to go to college, you might want to lay off the BlackBerry and get some sleep before writing the entrance exam.

The British researchers who discovered this phenomenon blame it on what they call "info-mania," which describes people who compulsively check their text and email messages during virtually all waking hours. In light of the study's findings, those people who loudly sing the praises of our now constantly connected world begin to sound pretty stupid, don't they? Maybe they've been using their email and BlackBerry devices too much.

In addition to doing clinical studies on 80 men and women, the researchers also interviewed 1,100 people. Of those, 89% said that it was extremely rude to interrupt a face-to-face meeting to answer a phone or messaging device, yet 21% said that they did so. That means that some respondents either were knowingly and intentionally rude or were inconsistent in their responses. Then again, low IQ doesn't typically lead to a lot of consistent thinking.

To be fair, it's possible that these people were neither intentionally rude nor contradictory. Maybe they couldn't help themselves. Fully 62% of the respondents admitted to being addicted to checking their email and messages even when they were at home or away on a vacation. Don't be too hard on these people. They have a disease. They need help.

Here's something else to consider: For both men and women, that 10-point IQ drop from excessive email and text message exceeds the four-point IQ drop experienced by marijuana smokers. Well, at least now we know what we really should be just saying no to.

I can see it now. After a massive public outcry over the problem, the U.S. federal government will probably introduce an anti-messaging campaign that includes laws against its recreational use. People will start hiding their BlackBerry devices under false bottoms in their suitcases or in the wheel wells of their cars whenever they cross the border.

I suspect that, after first following the American lead in banning recreational messaging, the Canadian parliament, in response to a successful constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court of Canada, will pass an act allowing the use of messaging for medical purposes. It will likely then endlessly debate another bill that, if passed, will decriminalize the use of small amounts of messaging while keeping it as a misdemeanor offense and maintaining severe criminal penalties against the trafficking of messaging services.

While we're talking about governments and messaging, I read that, these days, most people who spend their time in the political arena are addicted to their BlackBerry devices. Apparently, they get very nervous if they're away from their devices for even brief periods or if they go for very long without hearing the beep of an incoming message. Considering the findings of this new study, that explains a lot about politics today.

The current situation isn't entirely bad for everybody. I see a novel defense for people facing charges in the notorious big-business accounting scandals and in the major political scandal that, as I'm writing this, dominates the media and parliament here in Canada: diminished capacity due to excessive messaging. Can't you just hear it? "Your honor, I can't be held responsible for my actions. My incessant but totally necessary messaging and emailing lowered my IQ, rendering me unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Don't blame me. Sue the email and messaging vendors instead."

Of course, BlackBerry addicts deny the report's findings, saying, "That's nonsense. I use my BlackBerry at least two hours in the morning, three in the afternoon, and another two in the evening. That makes at'll get it...give me a, right, two plus three plus two, that makes at least, um, eleven hours every day or so. Despite that, I'm no less...what's the word?'ll come to's on the tip of my rhymes with heart...I think it starts with an S, but I'm not know, the opposite of stupid...oh yeah, I'm no less, um, not stupid than I used to be."

It's not just our brains that are being ruined by this stuff. According to the Washington Post, orthopedists are reporting an increase in the number of cases of what they're calling "overuse syndrome" or "BlackBerry thumb." The symptoms include sometimes excruciating pains between the thumb and the wrist. Of course, while BlackBerry gets the headlines, the problem is not limited to those devices. Any keyboard designed for thumb-typing can cause the same injury if used excessively.

The Washington Post reported that one sufferer stopped using her BlackBerry entirely after she found that just cutting down and taking frequent breaks did not eliminate the pain caused by the tendonitis that was brought on by her excessive thumb-typing. She went through 12 weeks of therapy to finally cure the pain and even then it came back three months later. This sufferer's comments on giving up her BlackBerry were, "I'm frustrated. I'm making more phone calls.... I hate not being efficient."

Excuse me? Just how efficient do you think you'll be when you lose the use of your opposable thumbs? Those opposable thumbs and our superior brain power are what set us above most other animals on this planet. Now we've got some devices that are doing their best to ruin both our brains and our thumbs. And they call this progress.

Getting rid of your BlackBerry-induced thumb pain might take a long time even if you quit cold turkey, but there is good news on the IQ front. The University of London research shows that the drop in IQ is temporary. If you stop being obsessive about email and messaging, your IQ will quickly recover. Did you hear me? Stop being so obsessive about your use of email and messaging! Do I need to spell it out for you? Oh, wait. Maybe I do need to spell it out for you if you've been doing too much emailing and messaging.

The only problem that I see with that prescription is that if I cut down on my emailing (I hate and don't use messaging), then what excuse am I going to give for my falling IQ? I'll have to go back to blaming my advanced age.

Joel Klebanoff is a consultant, a writer, and president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc., a Toronto, Canada-based marketing communications firm. Joel has 25 years experience working in IT, first as a programmer/analyst and then as a marketer. He holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science and an MBA, both from the University of Toronto. Contact Joel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. On second thought, call him. He can't afford to lose any more IQ points.

Joel Klebanoff

Joel Klebanoff is a consultant, writer, and formerly president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc., a Toronto-based marketing communications firm. He has 30 years' experience in various IT capacities and now specializes in writing articles, white papers, and case studies for IT vendors and publications across North America. Joel is also the author of BYTE-ing Satire, a compilation of a year's worth of his columns. He holds a BS in computer science and an MBA, both from the University of Toronto.

MC Press books written by Joel Klebanoff available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

BYTE-ing Satire BYTE-ing Satire
Find out the hilarious answer to the eternal question: "Is technology more hindrance than help?"
List Price $14.95

Now On Sale



Support MC Press Online





  • White Paper: Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization

    SB Profound WP 5539

    If your business is thinking about modernizing your legacy IBM i (also known as AS/400 or iSeries) applications, you will want to read this white paper first!

    Download this paper and learn how Node.js can ensure that you:
    - Modernize on-time and budget - no more lengthy, costly, disruptive app rewrites!
    - Retain your IBM i systems of record
    - Find and hire new development talent
    - Integrate new Node.js applications with your existing RPG, Java, .Net, and PHP apps
    - Extend your IBM i capabilties to include Watson API, Cloud, and Internet of Things

    Read Node.js for Enterprise IBM i Modernization Now!


  • Profound Logic Solution Guide

    SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation.
    Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects.
    The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the companyare not aligned with the current IT environment.

    Get your copy of this important guide today!


  • 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results

    Fortra2022 marks the eighth edition of the IBM i Marketplace Survey Results. Each year, Fortra captures data on how businesses use the IBM i platform and the IT and cybersecurity initiatives it supports.

    Over the years, this survey has become a true industry benchmark, revealing to readers the trends that are shaping and driving the market and providing insight into what the future may bring for this technology.

  • Brunswick bowls a perfect 300 with LANSA!

    FortraBrunswick is the leader in bowling products, services, and industry expertise for the development and renovation of new and existing bowling centers and mixed-use recreation facilities across the entertainment industry. However, the lifeblood of Brunswick’s capital equipment business was running on a 15-year-old software application written in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) with a SQL Server back-end. The application was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced.
    With the help of Visual LANSA, they found an easy-to-use, long-term platform that enabled their team to collaborate, innovate, and integrate with existing systems and databases within a single platform.
    Read the case study to learn how they achieved success and increased the speed of development by 30% with Visual LANSA.


  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • Why Migrate When You Can Modernize?

    LANSABusiness users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.
    In this white paper, you’ll learn how to think of these issues as opportunities rather than problems. We’ll explore motivations to migrate or modernize, their risks and considerations you should be aware of before embarking on a (migration or modernization) project.
    Lastly, we’ll discuss how modernizing IBM i applications with optimized business workflows, integration with other technologies and new mobile and web user interfaces will enable IT – and the business – to experience time-added value and much more.


  • UPDATED: Developer Kit: Making a Business Case for Modernization and Beyond

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Having trouble getting management approval for modernization projects? The problem may be you're not speaking enough "business" to them.

    This Developer Kit provides you study-backed data and a ready-to-use business case template to help get your very next development project approved!

  • What to Do When Your AS/400 Talent Retires

    FortraIT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators is small.

    This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn:

    • Why IBM i skills depletion is a top concern
    • How leading organizations are coping
    • Where automation will make the biggest impact


  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using as a pre-built development environment



  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Encryption on IBM i Simplified

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDB2 Field Procedures (FieldProcs) were introduced in IBM i 7.1 and have greatly simplified encryption, often without requiring any application changes. Now you can quickly encrypt sensitive data on the IBM i including PII, PCI, PHI data in your physical files and tables.
    Watch this webinar to learn how you can quickly implement encryption on the IBM i. During the webinar, security expert Robin Tatam will show you how to:

    • Use Field Procedures to automate encryption and decryption
    • Restrict and mask field level access by user or group
    • Meet compliance requirements with effective key management and audit trails


  • Lessons Learned from IBM i Cyber Attacks

    SB PowerTech WC GenericDespite the many options IBM has provided to protect your systems and data, many organizations still struggle to apply appropriate security controls.
    In this webinar, you'll get insight into how the criminals accessed these systems, the fallout from these attacks, and how the incidents could have been avoided by following security best practices.

    • Learn which security gaps cyber criminals love most
    • Find out how other IBM i organizations have fallen victim
    • Get the details on policies and processes you can implement to protect your organization, even when staff works from home

    You will learn the steps you can take to avoid the mistakes made in these examples, as well as other inadequate and misconfigured settings that put businesses at risk.



  • The Power of Coding in a Low-Code Solution

    SB PowerTech WC GenericWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed.
    Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

    • Discover the benefits of Low-code's quick application creation
    • Understand the differences in model-based and language-based Low-Code platforms
    • Explore the strengths of LANSA's Low-Code Solution to Low-Code’s biggest drawbacks



  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

  • Comply in 5! Well, actually UNDER 5 minutes!!

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    TRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms.

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product.

    Request your trial now!

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    FortraRobot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    FortraRobot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.