No internet, no mobile, no life

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without your mobile phone, e-mail or internet? We asked two online agency directors to see if they could survive for 24 hours

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By  Richard Abbott Published  January 8, 2006

No internet, no mobile, no life|~|Diessner,-Martin200.jpg|~|Martin Diessner|~|In the American drama series 24, counter terrorist unit cop Jack Bauer says: “This is the longest day of my life.” Flip Media’s Martin Diessner and Impact Proximity’s Dimitri Metaxas probably know how he feels. They agreed to spend a day without their mobile phones or access to their e-mail and the internet — all in the name of research. “It was a nightmare,” says Diessner, emerging from a mountain of electronic communication on the morning after the experiment. Metaxas was similarly unimpressed. “I wanted to know for myself exactly how I would cope. And the simple answer to that is ‘not very well’,” he says. Both men are experts in online communication. Their job is to advise clients on the best way to use online media to reach consumers. As such, they are reliant on electronic gadgets and gizmos on a daily basis. Metaxas, who is i-media director at Impact Proximity, enjoyed the best and worst of being offline. On the positive side, he was able to get through whole meetings without being interrupted by his mobile. On the downside, he was unable to call the police on discovering that his car had been broken into. “Someone tried to break into my car. They broke a hole in the soft top. It was looking good up to then, but then it went downhill,” he says. “It shows how much you rely on technology. “I had to go and see people physically. It was nice because I didn’t have my mobile phone to bug me.” Diessner admits: “It is impossible to work without the internet. Any marketer who says that the internet isn’t a good marketing tool should try spending a day without it.” 24 hours Martin Diessner, Flip Media 11.15pm (the day before) Set up my Microsoft Outlook “out of office reply” to make sure people will know that I will be offline the next day. Also print off my calendar and relevant telephone numbers off the extranet. 12.15am Very tempted to check my e-mails before going to bed. Remember not to cheat in the first hour. 8.15am Overslept. Realise that I don’t even own an alarm clock — my cell phone usually does the job. 8.34am Call the office on the land line as I don’t remember a single mobile number, leaving a message that I will be late. 8.50am Traffic jam. Normally I would get out my laptop, plug-in the 3G high-speed internet access card and start working on my e-mails. Today, I read the papers. 9.10am Late into the office for first meeting and people wonder if I had an accident as my phone was off. 9.55am My secretary has cheated and printed an important e-mail that I respond to in handwriting and fax back to the client. Feel really stupid. 10.38am Send a fax to Dimitri, asking him how he is doing. Tell him that I am bored. 10.56am Get a letter from the UK with a reminder for bill payment for my house in London. Online banking is out, so let’s see if I can remember the phone access codes. “All lines are busy, please continue to hold,..” 11.10am Usually I ask my secretary for some coffee and water but today I have so much time I do the coffee myself. 12.44pm Get two faxes done and feel like an old man who takes ages to do things that usually take seconds. 12.45pm I hate this day. If someone offered me US$1 million for never using the internet and my mobile phone ever again in my life, I would turn the offer down. 12.55pm Time to leave for lunch at the Grosvenor House. I don’t even know where the lunch is, have no mobile phone but will try to find them. 1.15pm Lunch with some networking is going well. I am the only person who does not have a mobile phone that needs to be switched off, or disturbs with ring tones from the TV series 24. Very relaxed. 2.50pm Back at the office. While my account director shows me something online, I close my eyes. No cheating. 5.30pm Any other day I would return missed calls and check back on e-mails. There is no such option, so we go for a coffee and hang out in front of the office, chatting about latest client wins and lost pitches and so on. 6.00pm Back at my desk, I write my last fax and push it over the analogue line. Not one person has responded and sent me a fax. If every day was like this, we would be bankrupt and out of business — I typically receive up to 500 e-mails a day. 8.10pm Driving home as there is nothing else that I can do. Usually I would work until 9pm or 10pm, write numerous e-mails and do a lot of research online. 11.15pm After a relaxing massage and small dinner, I am sitting here in front of my notes and re-thinking the day. I feel stupid. I have achieved hardly anything, will have double work tomorrow and probably lots of emergency cases to deal with post midnight. I am glad that the day is over and I am confident that I will not be doing this again. One thing I noted positively: I am considering not using my private mobile number for business in the future, as it gives me more privacy and freedom to focus on real tasks. Midnight I am back online. My life is back in order. Mails are coming in — a lot, too many. I don’t care, things are back to normal, even with 420 items in my inbox and more than 30 missed calls. And back to the million dollar question: the answer is NO. You can take radio, newspapers and television from me, but the internet stays with me, forever. ||**||No internet, no mobile, no life|~|Metaxas,-Dimitri200.jpg|~|Dimitri Metaxas|~|24 hours Dimitri Metaxas, Impact Proximity 8.26am Normally use my “Communicator” as an alarm clock but that’s off limits so, as I couldn’t seem to find any other reliable method, I keep the windows wide open. Oversleep and wake up in a rush. 9.00am Left my car at work over the weekend (was a busy one) and so I hunt for a taxi. I brought my communicator with me and look at it longingly during the ride as I have my entire day’s schedule mapped out on it. I notice my taxi driver looking at me suspiciously, he knows I would be cheating if I open it…paranoia kicking in. 9.30am I usually start my mornings by downloading the usual bucket load of e-mails and checking the “adserver” online to see the status of all current campaigns. But, of course, this won’t be my routine today. The rest of the Proximity iMedia team inform me that we currently have 18 campaigns up and running and since I can’t help them I am not very popular. I feel smug whilst reading a copy of 7Days. 9.46am I look around and everyone (I mean everyone) is engrossed in their e-mails except me. It’s that Monday morning look on everyone’s face, so no socialising, only sucked into their computer screens. By not having to worry about my e-mails, I feel somewhat liberated, if a little bored, so I decide to play with my rolodex. 10.54am Notice that Martin must be even more bored than I am by his fax which lands on my desk. I call him up for the sake of a kindred spirit but instead Martin begins one of his inimitable German-style rants about the virtues of online and asks why Emirates Airline would dare run an online booking campaign in the newspaper. I know better than to argue and agree profusely. 11.30am Paperless office? Not today. Got paper flying off the desk as my pen waves like a mini office tornado. I decide to scrawl out Proximity’s Campaign Awards entries but find that even I can’t read my own handwriting. Why is everything in capital letters? 1.00pm Working lunch, cannot access my MSN messenger to communicate with the online media houses and solve any trafficking headaches. Hence I fax or call people. This proves far timelier and no responses. Don’t people check their faxes every minute for those important messages? I guess not. 2.45pm I head out to the car park and shockingly find that someone had tried to break into my car. Left a large tear in the soft-top. Extremely close to breaking the rules on this one, angered by the finding but cannot call security for follow up with the police. Of all days to have this happen. 3.11pm Arrive at Dubai Media City. Some people running late so follow up about the car break-in via landline telephone. Get put through to an automated recording ‘Your call is important to us…’ give up. Decide I will deal with it later. You have got to love the service levels in Dubai. 5.45pm Having concluded the pleasantries, I find myself on the wrong side of Sheikh Zayed Road, not too far from the office. If only it weren’t for the 5000+ cars blocking my way. At least the no “mobile rule” means this ride will be devoid of the usual office emergencies. But at the same time, I have no idea what is going on back there. 6.35pm Give up by the time I hit the second interchange and shoot back home. I was pretty useless in the office anyway. Once home, I hit the home phone and call everyone I can think of and ask if I was missed. I wasn’t. So I go through my bills. 6.36pm Realise that all payments are made online anyway so again cannot achieve much here either. Give up, watch TV. More than 137 channels and nothing on. Decide to go for a walk. 7.30pm Walk over to my parents house (should only be 20 minutes) but take the long way. Play with the dog and a bit of rugby with the younger brother. Having a fantastic time outside getting my mind off of the day’s madness. Funny how kids can bring you back down to earth. Is it really all that important after all? 8.30pm Walk back home. Normally partake in a little mp3 downloading but not tonight. Also no blogs and no, no How can I survive? Crossword puzzles? No, I opt for Sudoku instead. 9.45pm I realise that resistance is futile. I decide to go to bed early knowing that as soon as I start reading I will pass out. I have just the book; “Anthropology: The Exploration of Human Diversity”. It works a treat for insomnia. Somewhere around 10.15pm Out like a light.||**||

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