Social Media Blackout – Our Lives in the Hands of Others?

Picture of By Asiah Capponi

By Asiah Capponi

For 5 hours on Monday October 4th, 2021 people experienced life without social media, namely Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. It has been the longest these apps have ever been down and the whole world was standing by, waiting on the sidelines for the problem to be fixed. 

Social media have become such a reliable part of our everyday lives that we do not even remember what it means not having them at our disposal. Many employees had difficulties working and carrying out their everyday work tasks. Many companies use these apps to connect with clients, and many people all around the globe felt like their connection with the ‘outside world’ had been cut out. I personally felt like I couldn’t talk or communicate with my friends and family. Social media has become a bridge between us, the people we love, whether they live far away or close by, and the rest of the world. Whomever kind of person you might need to get in contact with, social media is the way. 

Parallel Worlds

By now we have created a parallel world to the one we physically live in: the digital world, and we spend most of our days there, chatting and scrolling. It has become such a habit that we do it without even thinking or paying attention. These, however, are things that have been heard plenty of times before. So, what happened a few days ago? What is something we should’ve realized way before? That we are all in the hands of Mark Zuckerberg. The day of the blackout, he posted the following message on Facebook: “Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are coming back online now. Sorry for the disruption today — I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.” They, the tech people who work in this company, were finally able to fix the problem while we were standing on the sidelines. Sure, the world is wide, and it’s so beautiful that we are diverse and we all have different abilities. But some people are so much more powerful than others. Perhaps even too much.

Technology: Only A Tool?

We are slowly but steadily moving towards a world based entirely on online platforms.

Before the blackout, I couldn’t even imagine a day in the distant future where we would be left without social media. But maybe it’s not so utopic after all. Sure, if WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook fail one day, they will be replaced by other more advanced social media, which will, one day, also be replaced by others. Technology evolves and we have to evolve with it. But is it crazy to think that I find it a little scary how much we are dependent on them nowadays? In general, how much are we relying on the Internet? Young people are becoming more and more used to communicating via text than by call or by face-to-face communication. We are slowly but steadily moving towards a world based entirely on online platforms. The generations to come can only be more technologically advanced than we are, and growing in a digital world will make them experience and think differently. We can already see this shift now. Many young people choose the path of creativity compared to the one of theoretical studies. They leave everything and travel the world, thanks to social media which gives them the possibility to make money out of their short videos and pictures. However, this way of living still seems like a bit of a dream that just a select few are lucky enough to be able to follow. But will it still be the same thirty years from now? Because, if all that we learn can be found on the Internet, isn’t what we need simply a tool to navigate through the ocean of information? And once we have it, aren’t we all destined to leave and travel the world or do what we love? 

Our Lives In The Hands Of Others

A social media blackout is not something common. It has happened only a few times before and it has never been this long. And we have no certainty that what we have is safe and destined to stay. If we base all we have and all we are on an imaginary platform, aren’t we risking too much? Aren’t we putting ourselves in the hands of others? Starting from our followers, who decide if what we do and how we do it is worth anything, to the owners of a huge corporation, who have no clue who we are, we are putting our lives in the hands of others. 

Cover: Tracy Le Blanc

Edited by: Laurent Hebette

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