The social networking site, Facebook, and its subsidiaries, including Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Mapillary and Oculus, became globally unavailable for a period of six-seven hours at 15:39 UTC on October 4, 2021. During the outage, many users flocked to Twitter, Discord, Signal, and Telegram, resulting in disruptions on these apps’ servers. The outage was caused by the loss of IP routes to the Facebook Domain Name System (DNS) servers, which were all self-hosted at the time. Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing was restored for the affected prefixes at about 21:50 UTC, and DNS services began to be available again at 22:05 UTC, with application-layer services gradually restored to Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp over the following hour, with service generally restored for users by 22:50 UTC. Initially, countless users of Facebook across the globe did not understand what had happened. Numerous businesses, which heavily rely on Facebook or WhatsApp, also came to a standstill! Later, the Netizens started using another social media platform that is considered as the main competitor of Facebook Inc.
A question now stems from a mind that is not too tech-savvy: What if Social Media disappear forever? Assuming one can still use Google, YouTube or email as before, the disappearance of Social Media would certainly trigger more than just a tremor. If the world, along with its technological advancement and knowledge, could somehow reach the 1980s, then a New Normal would be created. That New Normal could be far more influential than COVID-19 Pandemic.
Nowadays, more than 90% of the companies use Social Media to recruit staff. With the disappearance of Social Media, companies would have to look for new recruitment methods. While around four million businesses use Facebook for advertisement purposes, 50 million companies keep in touch with their customers via this social networking site. Hence, many brands would not be able to survive if social media disappeared. Also, millions of people will lose their jobs, and the stock markets will collapse. It could trigger chaos worldwide, as well as the biggest depression in the history of human civilisation.
Once the initial gloom subsides, the construction of a New Normal would commence. Even after getting rid of addiction, many will try to return to their comfort zones, initially. Then, the tendency of human beings to go out of their homes might gradually increase, along with productivity. Probably, an addiction to smartphones will decrease, resulting in marginally better health, as well as eyesight. The widespread use of social media often increases the level of frustration, as constant comparisons with the lives of others reduce one’s personal satisfaction. In the absence of social media, the chances of this comparison would certainly decrease. Many people may also change their dress codes, and even home décor patterns, which have become Insta-Interior for some.
However, it is difficult to predict whether the tendency to share personal information with others would decrease in the absence of social media. One may recall the most commercially successful Hollywood movie of 1998, ‘The Truman Show‘. Jim Carrey played the role of Truman Burbank in this film. The character of Truman was sold for a reality television show even before his birth following an unwanted pregnancy. Truman’s birthplace or hometown of Seahaven Island was a complete set built within an enormous dome. For 30 years, thousands of viewers around the world had been watching almost every aspect of Truman’s life with the help of thousands of hidden cameras! However, Truman had no idea about this reality show. The Truman Show was analysed as an exploration of simulated reality, existentialism, surveillance, religion, metaphilosophy, privacy, and reality television. The movie was repeatedly associated with social media and privacy, although there was no social media hype at that period of time. LinkedIn was launched in 2003, while Facebook was launched in 2004, Twitter in 2006, Tumblr in 2007, and WhatsApp and Instagram were launched in 2010. In the movie, Truman burst with anger when he came to know that his privacy was compromised. On the contrary, the global community happily shares every aspect of their lives with strangers through social media. It has become really difficult to say what one really means by privacy, and how much one values it.
In a recent article, The Guardian compared Facebook with addiction to cigarettes. However, no one can deny the usefulness of social media in communicating with the world during lockdown due to COVID-19 Pandemic. The social media have, seemingly, made the biggest difference between the Spanish Flu (1918-20) and COVID-19. In the contemporary world devastated by COVID-19 Pandemic, the Education System has become heavily dependent on social media. It would not be that easy to overcome the dependence on social media even if the Global Community manages to survive the ongoing Pandemic. Social media also extend a helping hand during major crises. With the disappearance of social media, establishing social bonds and finding a friend(!) would be a different matter.
Maria Angelita Ressa, the Filipino-American journalist and author who has received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, has claimed that Social Media is too dangerous for Democracy, stressing: “It has often been noticed that Facebook is not fully neutral with the information. Facebook’s algorithms prioritise the spread of lies laced with anger and hate over facts.” Meanwhile, the nonpartisan US think tank based in Washington DC – Pew Research Centre – has mentioned in its latest survey that nearly 86% of adult US citizens depend on news provided by social media, while only 5% purchase newspapers. According to the survey, the habit of reading books, watching movies, and spending time with friends without holding a smartphone has decreased sharply in recent times. In the absence of social media, email would surely get a big boost. The disappearance of social media would help people save a lot of time, as people around the world spend about two and a half hours a day on social media on an average. Currently, 2.89 billion people are active on Facebook, globally.
Again, it would become difficult for some to spread rumours or fake news in the absence of social media. At the same time, it is also a fact that the fragrance of the Arab Spring would be very difficult to spread. Protesters would face difficulties in triggering movements, like ‘Black Lives Matter’ or ‘Women’s Right to Drive’ (in Saudi Arabia). One cannot deny the fact that the abusive use of social media increases loneliness. The meaning of the word friend would be redefined in the post-social media world that is basically an imaginary state in the current social scenario.
It may be noted that legendary American Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) had written an article in The Nation in 1953. He spoke of the day after tomorrow on the basis of his own experience in that article. One night, the author noticed that a couple and their dog were roaming on the streets in Beverly Hills. The lady had a small cigarette-packet-shaped radio in one hand, and the radio was connected to her right ear with a thin copper-made wire. According to Bradbury, the lady, perhaps, forgot that her husband and the dog were with her, as she concentrated only on soap operas broadcast through that radio. Although her husband was holding her hand, Bradbury expressed doubt over the gentleman’s existence. The seven-decade-old article shows that our self-imposed loneliness is eternal. The expression of the feeling of loneliness has changed over time mainly because of technological development.
It seems that the revival of the loneliness of a person in a new form in the new world is the evolving history of civilisation. Even if Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms disappear, an unknown and new platform would be created. A newer means of social communication would make one even more lonely.
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Facebook:
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Twitter:
Boundless Ocean of Politics on Linkedin:
Contact us: email@example.com