Facebook, Insta, WhatsApp had a glitch. Does it matter?

Facebook, Insta, WhatsApp had a glitch. Does it matter?

This outage should make us contemplate deeper, and bigger, realities.

By Staff Writer

Published: Tue 5 Oct 2021, 9:58 PM

Last updated: Tue 5 Oct 2021, 9:59 PM

On Monday evening, the ‘unthinkable’ happened. Three of the shiniest stars — Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram — in the social media galaxy that we take for granted at all given times, awake or asleep, went under for about 6 hours.

That’s 1/4th of a 24-hour day. That’s huge. Big enough for humankind to pivot into a funk. So, here are the figures. According to latest trends, Facebook has 2.8 billion users (whatever people say about FB being a relic of the past is clearly a lie, it’s still, by far, the most popular social media platform by leaps and bounds), WhatsApp has 2 billion and Instagram 1.3 billion.

Do the math. Effectively, all these many users suddenly found themselves without virtual air to breathe. They hooked up to life support — in this case, it was the functional Twitter that most people took to, to rant about the breakdown, to vent their FOMO angst. In doing so, the birdie app, suddenly, became a temporary rage (we are sure there were hordes of new converts to the app in the course of a quarter of a day). The worrying thing here is how our real lives were upended because a three top apps went out of circulation for a while. If you think about it, nothing really happened, everything in the real world was on track, and yet everyone behaved as though a major catastrophe — much larger than, say, global warming or starving children — had been unleashed on unsuspecting humans.

In drawing room conversations and board meetings and mental health conferences, we talk about digital detox, and how we need to “disconnect” every once in a while. And here was a chance to do so. But instead of embracing the opportunity, we all rose collectively to gnash our teeth, feeling our lives had been torn asunder by the ‘incompetence’ of one Mark Zuckerberg (did you notice the memes and the trolling?) — just because we couldn’t be ‘seen’ posting our thoughts, opinions, emotions and achievements.

Tuesday’s ‘incident’ — while being a reminder that technology comes with its technical faultlines (much like the fable of the ‘emperor and the nightingale’ where the moral is clear: “nature offers more beauty, variety, and power than the manmade, mechanised world”) — should make us contemplate deeper, and bigger, realities. Social media can, and maybe even should, occupy a secondary tier in our lives, but let us not forget our primary responsibilities as human beings. We need to be mindful, accepting and tolerant of little glitches we may face now and then, take them in our stride, and focus on making a difference in things that actually matter. Like making the world — the real world — a better place.

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