For some, Facebook’s hours-long outage Monday felt like the world grinding to a halt.
The platform that sprouted from roots in the elite college campus dating scene has grown into a hub of modern digital life. It’s a place to connect with friends, sell used junk, spout off about politics, advertise to potential customers and store memories. The company owns a fleet of platforms that touch nearly every corner of our lives.
So, many viewed the outage caused by the company’s servers all knocking users offline at once as a catastrophic disruption of their lives and businesses.
To others, it was a vacation from a family of digital platforms that have become pervasive, spoon feeding people high doses of algorithmically-optimized alternate reality. An unending scroll rife with unfiltered disinformation from a company that seems to struggle to wield its power ethically.
A platform that seems to have constructed impermeable echo chambers, Pavlovian feedback loops that accelerate polarization. And that track and profile us night and day.
Let’s be real, our dependence on such a digital monolith is frightening at best. (During the outage some people even were locked out of accounts unrelated to the company because they employ their Facebook accounts as login credentials.)
It’s especially unsettling at a juncture following years of the platform being hijacked as a cesspool for worldwide disinformation campaigns. And a moment when a whistle blower turned loose a trove of internal company documents that seem to depict executives’ apparent apathy over damage its products caused both to society and to individuals.
So maybe the outage Monday afternoon was more than just a break for our scroll thumbs. Maybe it was a wakeup call.
Maybe it was the proof many of us needed of our unhealthy addiction to social media.