There’s much talk nowadays about the benefits of the “digital detox”, but anyone who has tried it will know it’s hard to hold down the power button with much conviction without feeling a crippling sense of FOMO.
But yesterday at around 5pm UK time, a great silence descended upon all of our pockets as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram went down globally for almost six hours.
Where were you when you realised it wasn’t just your wi-fi not letting you send that message, they’ll surely be asking for years to come.
The drama and collective excitement was palpable. We were all in it together, some much needed unity in our age of polarisation. People were flocking back to iMessage in droves (why does it feel so retro?), messaging partners on LinkedIn to let them know when they’d be home, or actually calling someone (God forbid).
It felt like a snow day — something affecting everyone but since there’s no one to blame and no way to fix it, it’s just quite funny.
Well, maybe not everyone — apparently TikTok remained unscathed so perhaps Gen Z were bopping away completely oblivious to the outage. It did also raise the slightly worrying issue that WhatsApp, in particular, has essentially become an integral part of public and business infrastructure in many countries, and perhaps it needs to be as reliably managed as other public utilities, like water and electricity. I’m sure for many it was a paralysing few hours.
For others, myself included, in many ways it was liberating. We’ve all felt that pang of anxiety when we remember we’ve left someone on read for a few days or not replied to a group chat for a while. It’s easy to feel like you’re a bad friend or a bad daughter when you accidentally go MIA on WhatsApp, but maybe our brains simply aren’t wired to be communicating 24/7.
Perhaps an enforced “digital detox” every now and then wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Did you enjoy the digital detox? Let us know in the comments below.