The Day Facebook Died (COM0011 – Blog Post #6)

I usually check my Twitter feed before I go to bed. I’m not really sure why I do it, other than out of habit. A few nights ago my feed was full of panic. It wasn’t over some natural disaster or act of terrorism… but rather because Facebook was down.

“It’s been down 20 minutes!” “30 minutes and still nothing, what’s going on?” As is the norm these days, the event spawned its own hashtag—#facebookdown. As the crisis wore on, more and more of the comments became self-deprecating. “How will I like what my friends are doing?” “How will I post pictures of my cat?” (Instagram, which Facebook owns, was also down.) Luckily both services were back after about an hour, and the world made sense again.

facebook-eye_2459156bAt first this was little more than a comical example of just how much we rely on social media, on how integrated it is in our daily lives. But then it got me thinking: how would our lives change if Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. were to suddenly disappear?

In Canada alone, 14 million people—that’s nearly half the country—log on to Facebook every single day. Most of them do it on their phones. Around the world, half a billion people are on Facebook. That’s a lot of people who would suddenly be without their newsfeed.

Of course, the impact would go far beyond people checking in on what their friends are doing. We’ve spent the past few months looking at the remarkable ways that social media has revolutionized how we interact with each other, from business to politics to social change.

Remarkably, despite the Web 2.0 revolution, there are still those who dismiss its impact. In response to a wave of online criticism earlier this month, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed social media as nothing more than “electronic graffiti.” That comment was roundly condemned, both online and offline.

The truth is, social media has revolutionized communication and self-expression. Sure, we can dismiss the lasted Instagram photo of what you made for dinner as frivolous—it certainly is. But it’s hard to dismiss the way social media has helped empower individuals and changed the way businesses operate. It’s helped us understand our world better and it’s even helped bring down dictators.

Which brings me back to my original question: what if all that were to suddenly disappear? I could probably do without checking my Twitter feed before bed. And I certainly do think that we could all use a little less time in front of a screen and a little more time outside, in the moment, or with loved ones. But to disappear completely? It’s hard to imagine.

I’ve heard of people giving up Facebook for Lent. Could you do the same? Could you resist the temptation to check in on social media for a while, or is it just too much a part of your life?

5 thoughts on “The Day Facebook Died (COM0011 – Blog Post #6)

  1. Facebook disappear? I am a self confessed, total, complete addict. Because of our lifestyle we have moved every 2 years for as long as I can remember. Facebook encapsulates my roots. They are the link to my family, friends and loved ones (not necessarily in that order). Each year we go camping and I do enjoy the break from social media but can not imagine life without a way to connect to my near and distant past.

  2. I feel your pain in reading this post Chris! I go through a similar panic every time Facebook goes down not only for personal reasons but for professional reasons as well. Although I tried my best to keep my facebook for personal use only, it didn’t take long before my colleagues started using it for work related purposes. I also have a hobby business where customers sometimes inquire or reserve purchases directly through Facebook. When it goes down, I risk losing sales or missing important customer communications. Like everyone else, I’ve considered ‘giving up’ my accounts, but these days it’s almost impossible not to have an account. Tony Abbott certainly needs to have a re-think about his stance on social media (and on the environment and foreign relations policies but that’s a whole other topic!)

  3. I have given your question some thought. I’m always checking Facebook, Pinterest & LinkedIn. I know that I could survive without checking in on Pinterest or LinkedIn for a time as I don’t look at them when I’m on vacation, but Facebook would be a hard one for me – I even check when I’m on holidays! If it was out of my control – say an outage or no internet access, than I could survive, but without an outside influence, I’m not so sure. Social media has taken over a certain amount of our life and I only see it playing a larger roll in the future. Just think, when the internet goes down at work or the main program you work on goes down – don’t you feel lost? Isn’t the first question you ask is whether you can go home if it doesn’t come back up in the next hour or two? I think that we are getting to that point with social media now.

  4. I check Facebook more than any of my other networks. Like you, it’s a habit for me. I do a lot of blog reading through Facebook and actually do a lot of learning there too! I do however, like a break. It’s important to be aware of how all of these social media networks and apps work but it’s equally important to understand you can survive without them. I think the toughest to lose contact with for me would be text or cellular phone calls. I can’t even imagine how my parents taxied three children around without a cell phone! I guess we were more punctual then???

  5. I love Facebook and when I was recently in Jamaica I was quite impressed with myself as I only checked it a couple of times in the evenings when I was back in the room before bed. I actually was awake. The same evenings that you talk about when Facebook went down and I have to admit it really bugged me. It has become a part of my life and daily routine. I wish I didn’t care sometimes butcher I think I receive more positives out of it then the negatives. When it comes to family vacations or just family time in general, the phone goes away and so does social media.

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