So, in case you missed it, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms owned by the giant social media company were down for most of us Wednesday. People took it in stride and life went on.
People were shocked to discover that they couldn’t get their daily dose of cat videos, political vitriol, and advertisements. You would think that they would do something else. They did – they complained on Facebook’s rival, Twitter. The topic #facebookdown was trending most of the day.
I happily admit that I wasn’t one of those devastated by the outage. That’s not to say I was unaffected. When I discovered I couldn’t do things on Facebook, including post an update on my ill mother-in-law, my reaction was one of irritation. Once I realized it wasn’t me, it was Facebook, I sighed and did other things.
Other things did not include Twitter, which I have a tenuous relationship with. Meaning, while I have a Twitter account (@bookwormlady2 if anyone cares), I rarely tweet or spend a lot of time there. Some little voice whispers (tweets?) I should spend more time on the platform, but it would have to come from somewhere and it hasn’t been a priority yet.
I did check out Twitter’s reaction to Facebook being down while writing this column, which was amusing. Some people expressed sorrow. Others mused that Twitter must be rejoicing over its rival’s problems. One wag suggested it was MySpace’s chance for a comeback – something that is highly doubtful.
But is it possible that the outage was a missed opportunity?
Don’t get me wrong. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook and I would be way more than irritated if it went away for good. But for a day? Is that really such a disaster?
I’m sure Facebook advertisers thought so, and I understand that. But I’m talking about those of us who, if we were honest, spend way more time on the platform than we need to. Who, if we tracked it, would be shocked at the hours spent scrolling our news feed.
What if we’d taken that time and done something different with it? Like talk to people face-to-face instead of behind a computer screen? Even a phone call would’ve been a good use of our time, because we’d be connecting with someone on a more personal basis.
Facebook has enabled us to depersonalize our interpersonal relationships. I admit there are people I’m friends on Facebook with I don’t know very well, but we have something in common. I’ve not taken the time to nurture a good number of those friendships, and I don’t know if I will. Not because they aren’t potentially fantastic people, but because there’s just too much to do.
It’s harder to be nasty face-to-face than on social media, where we can hide behind our computer screens while we spew ugliness at others who have the temerity to disagree with us. Maybe we could’ve practiced being kind to others while waiting for Facebook to come back?
There is so much to do beyond Facebook. Read a book. Take a walk. Clean your house (OK, that might be reaching). But once in a while, look up from the screen and check out the real life going on around you.
Then maybe the next time Facebook goes down you won’t feel upset, wondering what to do. It won’t be the end of the world. Instead, there will be options.
Me? Next time this happens, I’m calling my BFF to make sure she’s OK. We usually communicate via Facebook, and I don’t want to miss a chance to interact with her. And if she doesn’t answer, I will use that phone to call 911.