Back to Basics

How long could you survive without the internet?
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the February 2008 . Subscribe »

Entrepreneur dared me to go offline cold turkey for seven days--no e-mail, LinkedIn, AIM or Facebook (gulp!). A fearless technogeek (and online shoe shopper), I rose to the challenge. Here's my journal:

Sunday: Called T-Mobile and asked them to turn off my BlackBerry e-mail access. "Our servers are down," they informed me. "You'll have to go online in a few hours to make those account changes."

Friends taunted me with Facebook messages and pokes. T-Mobile finally canned my connectivity at noon.

Monday: Flew from Chicago to Silly Valley on Southwest to meet with West Coast clients (ironic timing, in light of this article). Got stuck with a C boarding pass because I couldn't check in online. By the time I boarded the plane, overhead compartments were full. Forced to check my carry-on luggage at the gate. Drat.

Sat next to Yahoo PR manager, who invited me to an after-hours party for a conference featuring product demos from the hottest tech startups. She promised to e-mail me an invite (I'd need a printed copy to get in the door). Imagine that.

Luggage (of course) delayed in shuffle.

Tuesday: Prepared for morning meeting with Apple's PR team. Called to verify appointment, as I couldn't send my typical "Gentle E-mail Reminder."

"Our meeting is on as scheduled, pending reaction to this morning's UK announcement," my contact said. Feigned familiarity, then bolted to hotel lobby to hunt for The Wall Street Journal. Suffering paper cuts and icky news ink, I flipped through, section by section. Alas, no Apple announcement. Annoying!

A woman sitting nearby proffered: "Apple announced iPhone UK distribution." Word-of-mouth in action. "So how are you handling your online bill payments?" she asked.

Wednesday, which blurred into Thursday: Restless. The world feels slightly empty and meaningless without e-grifter requests from Nigerian widows and high-ranking government officials.

Spent Thursday lugging around old-school Franklin planner and colored pens in an effort to coordinate my meeting schedule sans BlackBerry. Forced to resort to using phone instead of sending quick e-mail/text updates. Fielded calls from one client 10 times in a single hour as we worked together to revise their upcoming speaker presentation. Kinda bonded!

Friday: Got lost en route to new client meeting at 2513 Charleston Road. Fumbled with actual flip map (not MapQuest). Address did not exist. People on streets seemed clueless. No 411 listing, and using the Garmin felt like cheating. Drove around aimlessly, praying for psychic ability, until I broke down, headed to Starbucks and begged to borrow stranger's computer. Scored handsome dinner date without having to access Match.com.

Saturday: Flew back to Chicago. My Sony Vaio waited patiently on my countertop. Sighed, surrendered, and signed on. Was instantly overwhelmed by the 3,000-plus e-mails that graced my inbox. Decided to highlight "all" and hit delete.

Sorry if I haven't responded back to you.

Kirsten Osolind is CEO of Re:invention Inc., a nationally noted marketing and PR firm that helps companies market to women and hosts one of the nation's top 150 marketing blogs.

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