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EVERYTHING KING: Disconnect leaves Wendy unplugged, unavailable and unhinged

In this week's Everything King, Wendy admits the Great Facebook Outage of 2021 almost made her use the phone to call someone
2021-10-12 Disconnect
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What were you doing for six hours on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021?

I was tearing out my hair, rebooting my router and checking my internet connection about every 20 minutes all day long.

I think I had the shakes! I'm not proud of it, but it left me feeling a bit unhinged.

It was the Great Facebook shutdown of 2021, and also impacted the Instagram and What’s App? platforms. 

It was a day of self-reflection and lessons.

I realized whenever anything technical goes wrong, I immediately blame myself.

What button did I touch I should not have?

What’s wrong with my network?

Why is my computer so crummy?

The outage was about two hours in before I realized it was a worldwide glitch. What a relief! 

The biggest takeaway from this unexpected social-media blackout is that we, as a society, are way too addicted to our gadgets. I suppose we knew that, but this was a clear wake-up call.

I felt completely cut off from civilization – more isolated than during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Six hours, give or take, of uninterrupted time and I was absolutely lost. I felt completely unable to get anything accomplished.

And we could not share our dismay because we couldn’t post about the outage on Facebook! Misery does love company.

How would people know what I had made for lunch without a picture? How would they know my mental state? Would they miss my amusing anecdotes on the status bar? Would they think I had fallen and couldn’t get up?

Would I have to (shiver) use a phone for the way it was originally intended?

As a communicator, I find it very odd how much I detest talking on the phone. I much prefer a written text, email or Facebook message. The sound of the phone ringing immediately sets my teeth on edge. Good news rarely comes from a phone call. I don’t think I am alone in that angst.

I know I use Facebook as a crutch. It is a time waster I can justify. In the morning, it serves as the morning newspaper. It can be soul-sucking. While you eat your Cheerios you scan and scroll stories to see what happened overnight.

I use it as a check-in with friends and family. Honestly, during the last two years of isolation, it has been a godsend. It really has kept us connected. At the very least, it's been an escape.

I know it has negative impacts, as well, as recently outlined by a U.S. whistleblower. Without a doubt it has removed the filters of civility we once had.

There’s nothing worse than a keyboard warrior.

For sure, we are being target-marketed.

It really is like the wild west trying to rein in all the incorrect information.

What former employee Frances Haugen basically reported is that Facebook isn’t really trying to police the negativity because outrage and anger keeps us more engaged on the platform. We participate more and remain on the site longer allowing more ads to seep into our brains. They know it can be harmful, but they don’t care. Maybe they need a timeout in their own Facebook jail.

At the end of the day, it’s a business and making money is the goal. I think we had figured that out.

Personally, I don’t care if they target-market me. Send me all the ads for things I am interested in — I can decide if I want to purchase or not.

The more dangerous part is how it splits people up into different camps politically and socially. I know Facebook has been a factor in dividing families and ending friendships.

I understand all that, but for the purposes most of us use it for like sharing family photos, keeping up to date and for a little harmless entertainment, it still seems worthwhile.

I suppose we all need to decide for ourselves the gain versus loss ratio.

On Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, Mark Zuckerberg lost $7 billion.

I’d do a GoFundMe campaign for him, but I think my internet is still sketchy.

About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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