For six glorious hours last week, a peace and calm fell over the digital world, the likes of which we haven’t seen in close to two decades.
Facebook users around the globe were forced to peel themselves away from their phones, tablets and computers as the social media giant experienced a massive outage across all its platforms, including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Many of you may be reading this thinking, so what? Six hours of no Facebook – big deal!
For many social media users, however, a half-day outage can have a major impact – for businesses who rely on the platform for sales, people who depend on the various messaging functions for communication and many others who utilize it for a much-needed distraction from their day-to-day lives.
On the lighter side, we joke that during the outage, angry Internet warriors had no place to argue about vaccine mandates and election outcomes.
But on a more serious level, the outage – estimated at impacting 3.5 billion people worldwide – did have drastic implications for many. In countries such as Myanmar and India, where residents rely solely on the Facebook line of apps for communication, millions were left unable to get in touch with family, friends and business associates.
If there were any positives to come out of last week’s forced hiatus, it would be that perhaps some users took it as an opportunity to evaluate their relationship with the social media outlet.
It’s no secret that too much time spent “doom-scrolling” on any social media platform is not great for our overall mental health.
It’s also not an accident that apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like are easily addictive; in fact, over the 18 years since Facebook first launched, developers have spent much time and money designing these apps in such a way that the users will spend the maximum amount of time on them as possible.
We could all benefit from a social media vacation every once and a while. Whether it’s a forced hiatus due to technical difficulties or a break of our own accord, taking a few hours away from our screens and news feeds is smart, healthy and important.