This weekend I attended two of three of Dixie’s, yes the paper product company, Deadzone Diners. In case you’re asking yourself the same question I asked myself when I first heard of them, “What is a ‘deadzone diner’?” From my understanding, Dixie’s marketing team cleverly came up with the idea of “disconnect[ing] to reconnect”—utilizing areas with no cell service to serve free food and encourage people to talk to each other. What a concept! They took people back to when none of us had unlimited data, before everyone at the (restaurant) dinner table had a cell phone, and to when people drew a happy face on a piece of paper using an equal sign and a half parentheses. They provided what is rare nowadays, a total human experience. Ok, sure, this all took place on what seemed to be a live set, but I’m going to stand behind my belief that Dixie has tapped into something special. It’s all on how one chooses to interpret it, right?
I think Dixie may be ahead of the game. Again, I am aware of the fact that setting these deadzone diners up was for the benefit of Dixie; e.g. promotional use, but there was something more to it. There was something in it for me and for all of the people that attended, too. Consciousness. (Not only free food.) See, consciousness among big corporations is rare, and consciousness was apparent at these deadzone diners. It seemed like we were all using more of our brains, we weren’t glued to our screens. For example, I worked with other participants (aka strangers) to figure out the name of someone’s celebrity doppelgänger—the celebrity ended up being Alton Brown—something I could’ve done on my own had there been cell service. Since there was none, I was forced to reach out to others for help.
There was also a happy and lively spirit to these deadzone diners. Everybody was there, mentally and physically. Everybody—at least those around me—was experiencing the moment. We were present. We were even eavesdropping on each other’s conversations. We were reacting in real life instead of through text. The emojis were actual physical expressions being exchanged face to face, and people weren’t “lol’ing,” they were actually laughing!
Having the opportunity to experience these Dixie Deadzone Diners was a fun and beautiful adventure. It makes me (ever so slightly) wish there were more deadzones in our cities. Don’t hate me. Let me explain. If I had more deadzones near the places I live and work, I’d have more of an opportunity to “disconnect to reconnect” without having to travel to a remote area to do so. If I want more deadzones, then why don’t I just pretend I’m in one when I want or need one? Well, it’s similar to wanting to exercise. It’s easier to exercise when you have someone doing it with you. I’d feel more encouraged if there was a park full of people engaging wholeheartedly in the moment instead of a person here and there looking up at tops of heads.
I’m not saying that having more deadzones is the answer to any problems, but I think they have potential in finding solutions to other problems. Deadzones force people to talk to each other, which could mean more people working together.
I hope that more companies begin to have a more conscious approach to how they market themselves, like Dixie has demonstrated with this project.
Free meals, safe social settings, and a refreshed sense of living. Thank you, Dixie, for holding space and inspiring your consumer with some real-time living.
Cheers to Dixie!
**The photos above are only a few of the ones I took yesterday. I will be posting a few more in another blog post inspired by my deadzone diner experiences.**