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A wake-up call for Rio and all the other tweeters

"Don't panic! Something's gone wrong with our iPhones! Don't panic!" Yup, it finally happened. Something in our snazzy Apple smartphones went awry. With the changeover to 2011, the alarm wakey-wakey hit a glitch, leaving millions of punters late for work in the first days of the year. Even my alarm didn't go off, so it was getting afternoons wrong as well as mornings.

Top footballers Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Savage took urgently to Twitter, warning followers of their literary burbles that waking up was no longer the simple matter it used to be. Alarm clocks were fetched from the attic and duly dusted down. How absurd: surely our portable telephones were meant to do everything now? It showed how dependent we'd become on them.

Fair to middling scientists have identified a new condition called Information Deprivation Disorder, with symptoms similar to the 'cold turkey' experienced by addicts trying to give up drugs.

Researchers in an international study deprived volunteers of emails, texts, Facebook and Twitter messages. After just 24 hours, the subjects started getting the jitters. One boffin explained breathlessly: "We were not just seeing psychological symptoms but also physical symptoms."

How appalling. It's bad enough an alarm call not going off. But how could we put matters in perspective without access to Rio Ferdinand's tweets?