Commentary

Facebook Outage: Time for a Moral Inventory? No, Just Use Twitter

The world was still reeling Monday after a temporary outage prevented some people from updating their status on Facebook for a period of several hours. The outage, which the company blamed on network maintenance, left many people searching for answers: is God angry at us? Does He even exist, for that matter? Or are we basically alone in a cold, uncaring universe?

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad. But the Facebook outage really seemed to disturb some people’s emotional equilibrium. Predictably, many frustrated users took to other social media platforms to share their feelings about the service disruption, especially Twitter: a search for #facebookdown produced approximately a billion results, many featuring profane language. There was also a good deal of mockery of this distress, along with plenty of smug posturing by people who prefer Twitter to Facebook (and apparently forgot that Twitter has had occasional outages itself).

Of course advertisers got in on the action, or inaction, with (sometimes) clever posts riffing on the outage: out of a collection of brand tweets aggregated by Mashable, the most amusing came from Waterstones book store, which changed the iconic blue Facebook logo to say “read a book” accompanied by a link to new releases. A tweet in Italian from Durex Italia suggested that people use their free time to, ahem, connect at a more personal level.

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One common theme of responses to the Facebook outage was the recognition that the vast majority of what people would have posted was probably trivial and meaningless anyway. Which raises the question of why everyone posts this crap in the first place. And perhaps, within that question, lies the beginning of wisdom: if it’s not achieving anything or contributing anything to our lives, perhaps we should consider imposing voluntary social media outages on ourselves, including not just Facebook but Twitter and all the other usual suspects? After all, we got along just fine without them before -- why should we feel like we’re hostages to their whims now?

Or is that just crazy talk?
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