Millions of people around the world were annoyed this morning (or last night, depending on where you live) when they realised their favourite source of dopamine was unresponsive.
With Facebook and Instagram down, thousands of people turned to Reddit to discuss what on earth was going on. This discussion then morphed into a discussion on how The Zuck Machine going down had actually improved many peoples’ lives.
The Pew Research centre suggests 7/10 of American adults use Facebook and 4/10 American adults use Instagram.
To put this in perspective, Pew Research states that: “With the exception of YouTube – the video-sharing site used by 81% of adults – no other major online platform comes close to Facebook in terms of usage.”
“Four-in-ten adults report using Instagram, while around three-in-ten use Pinterest (31%) and LinkedIn (28%). A quarter of adults or fewer use Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, TikTok, Reddit and Nextdoor. Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.”
You’d think it would be a major blow when there’s an outage then. Commercially it was. But for many individuals, the break was refreshing.
On a Reddit thread entitled: “How is everyone enjoying Reddit while Instagram Facebook and whatsapp are all down?” one user wrote: “World may actually be a slightly better place for a little while. Like, minutes, but better is better.”
Another said: “I thought my internet was the problem. Turns out the universe is just sending me a sign to stop mindlessly scrolling through someone else’s timeline.”
Another shared: “I’ve actually been reading a book most of the day instead of scrolling Facebook and Instagram and thinking to myself ‘Why am I not doing this regularly?!'”
“I’m supposed to be doing social media work on my day off, so it sounds like a good day to me!” said another.
Another revelation shared on the thread sparked terror into many social media users. Reddit user u/bautron admitted: “I actually made a call today.”
“A PHONE call.”
One commenter on the thread then asked: “what, like…with your voice? is that a new feature or something?”
Others reminisced about previous wholesome internet moments.
“Remember the summer of 2016 when everyone was just playing Pokemon Go? Like the whole world just forgot about all their differences and just walked around catching Pokemon.”
Others were a little more cynical. One wrote: “As long as I have something to scroll endlessly with ads and strong opinions I feel alive.”
Another spicy comment was as follows: “A lot of very bored people are now wondering why they’re so dependent on those media.”
“This reminds me of the time my 12 year old and her best friend got walkies talkies so they could talk instead of texting.”
“Didn’t know they were down but that explains why my friend stopped replying all of a sudden… I hope.”
It wasn’t just those in the US and around the world sharing how this outage has affected them.
Tottenham football player Lucas Moura joked: “With the fall of Whatsapp and Instagram I was able to talk with my wife. Very nice person she is.”
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The world of Twitter also provided some light comedic relief too, with the official Twitter account of the Empire State Building writing: “I do not care about Facebook being down. I am literally a building.”
I do not care about Facebook being down. I am literally a building.
— The Empire State Building (@EmpireStateBldg) October 4, 2021
The official account of Twitter itself wrote (gloatingly): “hello literally everyone.”
The BBC reports that Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are now coming back after the 6 hour outage.
“Downdetector, which tracks outages, said it was the largest failure it had ever seen, with 10.6 million problem reports around the world,” the BBC reports.
“The last time Facebook had a disruption of this magnitude was in 2019,” (BBC).
If this brief putting of social media on ice has you wondering what would happen if the tech giants disappeared forever, you’re not the first person to have wondered this. The question has been pondered many times (ironically) online before on such forums as Quora, Social Media Today and Reader’s Digest.
Though many believe if Facebook fell another equivalent would simply rise up in its place, that’s not the only theory.
In response to the Quora question “What would happen if Facebook suddenly vanished?” one user guessed: “The worldwide ‘brain drain’ issue would be significantly negated.”
Social Media Today has written about this same hypothetical, claiming: “Users would find new homes, and businesses would follow.”
“Facebook had 1.5 billion active users as of October, a 23% increase since March 2013. If Facebook fell, the torch would be passed – perhaps to Google+, or maybe an up-and-coming social site, (Socal Media Today).
“Businesses that market on Facebook aren’t going to let 1.5 billion potential customers walk out the door without following them.”
Reader’s Digest claimed in February that we’d be happier if social media disappeared, citing a European study.
They wrote: “In 2015, scientists at Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute released their findings from a study of 1,095 daily Facebook users, half of whom took a research-imposed break from the site for seven days.”
“The results: ‘After one week without Facebook, the treatment group reported a significantly higher level of life satisfaction,’ according to the study. The participants weren’t only happier; they also said they felt more enthusiastic and more decisive, and they enjoyed life more,” (Reader’s Digest).