With the mass shut down of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp on Tuesday, billions were left without access to their social circles for up to fourteen hours.
Users in the United States, Europe, and Japan, were impacted, experiencing trouble loading photo feeds on Instagram, sending and receiving glitchy messages on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and delayed loading of Facebook’s desktop application.
Twitter became the means for communicating frustrations, and updates from Facebook, as thousands reflected on “the great social media outage of 2019.”
Facebook blamed system configuration changes for the shut-down and resolved all issues by Thursday morning. However, it was the longest outage in the company’s history.
It was probably the longest I’d been off of Instagram in at least a year.
As one of the 500 million people who accesses Instagram daily, and part of the 60 percent of users between the age of 18-24, Instagram, admittedly, is a large part of my life.
I find myself mindlessly scrolling through posted photos and tapping through hundreds of Instagram stories whenever I feel mildly bored, which, apparently, is quite often.
But walking back to my flat, without Instagram, having exhausted my Snapchat stories and recent tweets, I looked up from my phone.
It felt amazing to be disconnected. To take in the walk home, rather than inattentively scrolling through blurs of photos, videos, and messages.
Not being able to access something that has become a frequent habit, although initially annoying, turned out to be a great opportunity to disconnect and recognize how much I’m missing while waiting for my Instagram feed to refresh.
In 2018, the average 18-24 year old spent over 34 minutes a day on the app, while 80 percent of users, between this age range, access Instagram at least twice a day.
This daily habit takes up time that could be used to experience the world around you, not an edited version inside your phone.
Upon arriving back to my flat, my roommates spent the evening checking Instagram, in twenty-minute intervals, to see if the application was back up, and when it wasn’t, we talked about events from our day.
What a novel idea.
The next morning, Instagram was operating again, but instead of starting my morning with a slew of new photos to scroll through, I put my phone down.
For me, “the great social media outage of 2019” was a good thing.