Two weeks ago, we all got a little taste of what it might be like in a world without social media.
During the unscheduled Oct. 4 Facebook and Instagram outage (which lasted about five hours), nobody was able to update their status, like their friends’ photos or even comment about how annoying the outage was.
But it didn’t last for very long. After a few hours of people flocking to other social media outlets, such as Twitter and TikTok, they were able to resume scrolling through their feeds, shopping on Facebook Marketplace and posting about conspiracy theories surrounding the outage. (Some of those theories revolved around the previous day’s revelation that Instagram does negatively affect the mental health of teenage girls and that Facebook, its parent company, knew about this and did nothing.)
However, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Facebook hadn’t been able to get their systems back online. In fact, what might happen if all social media went down and never came back?
I present to you, a speculative journal of a world with no social media. Keep in mind as you read, that this isn’t necessarily how things would go down. However, it’s certainly worth entertaining the possibility.
Day 1 of Social Media Outage:
Today, all social media apps just … crashed. Not really sure what’s going on, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, even Pinterest are all down. I mean it’s fine. I guess I’ll kill some time playing games on my phone. Maybe text some people to hang out.
A few moments later…
OK! Now I’m really annoyed! I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to play any games since I used Facebook to login to half of them! And I don’t have everyone’s numbers saved to my phone since I normally use Messenger to text big groups. Now what am I going to do?
Day 2 of Social Media Outage:
I didn’t realize how much I use social media. I had to actually look up some articles today to see if there was any news about what’s happening with the outage. Normally when something big goes down, I just scroll through my social news feed and other people have already reposted 20 things about it. Feels weird having to seek out news sources myself.
Day 7 of Social Media Outage:
It really seems to be getting crazy with this social media outage. I heard on the news that small businesses and political campaigns are really suffering from this. I never thought about how much I use things like Facebook to find new local stores or even to learn about candidates running for office.
I guess it makes sense. But it also makes me wonder how much I’ve been manipulated by the algorithms used to determine what types of posts and ads we see.
Day 12 of Social Media Outage:
Some people are not handling this outage well. I saw people with signs on the street corner today. At first, I thought it was some sort of rally. Turns out, people were putting their pictures and status updates on the signs. Talk about lonely.
Day 26 of Social Media Outage:
Maybe this whole social outage isn’t such a bad thing. Several of my friends whose numbers I didn’t have wound up getting my number from other mutual friends. So, we’ve actually been able to keep in contact.
I’ve also noticed a change in my attitude. I’m less irritated and cynical. Is it possible that Internet trolls were contributing to my constant pessimism?
I also feel like I’m connecting better with friends now than when I was constantly seeing updates from them online. So, is it also possible that because I don’t have to filter through dozens of other people’s comments, I’m able to have better conversations with my friends?
Day 41 of Social Media Outage:
It’s been more than a month since social media went down. And based on what I’m seeing on the news, it’s never coming back. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
Apparently, depression and anxiety rates have gone down worldwide. Something about the lack of cyberbullies and how filters on Instagram negatively impacted self-esteem. People don’t seem so angry anymore either. I can’t even remember the last time I heard someone go off on a random tangent ranting about the movie industry when the subject was about puppies. And now, when I ask for restaurant recommendations, I get genuine responses instead of some automated ads and then a subsequent lecture from my third cousin about government corruption.
I’ve also noticed that I’m sleeping better since I actually go to bed when I lay down instead of watching three hours of TikTok videos. And without the constant distractions, I’ve been able to focus better. And not just me, but my friends, too. Whenever we hang out, instead of being glued to our phones, we actually spend quality time together.
It’s just nice.
I really hope social media doesn’t come back. But if it does, I really hope my friends don’t join back up again. Because if they do, I might find myself jumping right back on that bandwagon. And that’s just not something I’m interested in anymore.