The Social Shutdown – What Did It Teach Us?

If the downtime of social media networks Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, (and others!) on Oct 4th doesn’t give you pause, then you probably don’t use social media much. And kudos to you! You can stop reading now because you are already doing something right by not being too tied up in social media! Smile, turn your face to the sun, and we will be opening our eyes to your wisdom. 

If you are still reading, you probably use one of these platforms. Maybe your preference is LinkedIn or some other platform that didn’t go down. Likely though, you recognize that many people make their livelihood on social channels. And many businesses use these media as the main drivers to their businesses, even if their products/services are not delivered through those social channels. For tons of people, including marketers like me, our major channels were just gone for a big chunk of the day. 

And it was eye-opening. How much I rely on these social mediums to learn, to do work, get inspired, and to communicate and connect. It shone a light on what it is, where we are now, how MUCH these networks have become a part of our lives. The fact that it was only down for 6 hours, and that was an eye-opening experience for people. To not have them for just 6 hours really says it all. And it affected 3.5 Billion people. And it cost Facebook nearly $100MM in revenue. 

And it’s not just businesses that were thrown askew and feeling disconnected. Think about how many people spent those hours refreshing their social media feeds, panicking that they couldn’t check on their favorite celebrity or post a picture of their lunch! 

It was like our internet parents told us to go outside and play. Which was downright refreshing! Like, someone hit a reset button.  

(Officially, Facebook says user data was not compromised and it was an internal technical error. For sure, they didn’t lose or ahem, delete, anything)

But do you trust Facebook? Still? 

I’m not sure I do, and the Facebook Files don’t instill confidence. It’s like they have built a monster and they don’t know how to control it. Or, they do. Which one is scarier?

Speaking of scary, have you seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix? It makes plain that yes, we know that social media is bad for people, young females in particular. We see how social media sucks our attention and connection. How it depresses us. It also gives a glimpse into how Facebook in particular is a dangerous political tool. It is not the intention of this article to give you every fact. There’s plenty to read about it out there, go dig it up!  But make sure as you do you give yourself some nice deep breaths. Sometimes the world is a lot to take in…

I’m writing here for you now to encourage your internal care of yourself. Look to life beyond social media for the fulfillment, not likes. I’m here to urge you to find non-techy ways to connect. Call up a friend and just chat for a bit, if they have time. Or make plans to meet face-to-face with someone who you care about, someone who might be able to inspire or encourage you. Look that person in the eye. Listen to them and share something with them. It’s called connecting.  And it is scary, and it feels super weird now in a pandemic.  

And no, you don’t have to give up your social media. You can learn new best practices to guide your use of social media. I am currently following the guidelines that I read recently in an article by the Minimalist, which shared a number of best practices on the intentional use of social media. This was helpful for me, as someone who wants to use social media, but doesn’t want to be addicted to it, brainwashed by it, or depressed and isolated. Let social media provide a way to stay connected with friends, family, and groups, or even an income stream, but, as the Minimalist recommends, learn how to “jump in and jump out”. 

For me personally, that downtime was very refreshing. It was a reminder that I need to lookup more. We need to connect in real life. Connect with ourselves. And on a professional level, a great reminder not to rely on social media so much. 

Note: I’d encourage you to read from reliable sources and be educated as you feel you need to be about the legality of Facebook and what happened. I have included a list of links that I used to inform myself.


Links in order of appearance

Facebook’s outage cost the company nearly $100 million in revenue

Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram back after outage

Facebook Files: 5 things leaked documents reveal

The Social Dilemma

10 Rules for Using Social Media Intentionally

Research links:

Facebook officials knew Instagram can have negative mental health impacts for teens, report claims

Why Instagram Is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health

Who is Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistle-blower?

Artist portrays disturbing images of faces being absorbed by smartphones

The 4 Best (and Free!) Apps For Limiting Your Screen Time and Staying Present

Parents in China laud rule limiting video game time for kids

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