Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Twitter was down. The world did not end.

I woke up early this morning to news that Twitter had experienced an overnight service outage. From about 3:20 a.m. until just around 6am Eastern, users who tried to access the service via its website, mobile website and app were either unable to do so, or things took so long to respond that it was useless to even try.

This happened while most folks in North American slept, so the fact that there aren't mushroom clouds on the horizon is strictly a matter of timing. Among the various social media platforms out there - including Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest - Twitter is often seen as the one that everyone turns to when big news is happening. Because of the way it's built, it works nicely as what I like to call the Internet's early warning system.

So when that early warning system goes dark, where does everybody go?  They take to Facebook and any other tool they can get their hands on. And they complain. Because nothing fixes an outage like a good whine.

The service is slowly coming back up: It'll load for most people, but posting new Tweets is a bit hit-and-miss. I guess the data centres need some tea. Which gives us all time to reflect. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time Twitter - or some other important-to-you social media or message service - goes down:
  1. You don't pay for the service. So no one owes it to you.
  2. There are many other tools and services out there. As you would do in a traffic-jammed commute, simply take another road.
  3. This is not a tragedy. Walk the floor of any ER or cancer ward, or take an all-expenses-paid tour of Mosul or the beaches of Lesbos for a reality check on how the word should be defined. This, OTOH, is a simple inconvenience.
  4. There was life before Twitter. Once upon a time, not so long ago, we all lived rather nicely without any kind of social media. Amazing, isn't it?
  5. Silence can be golden. Sometimes, all it takes to snap us back into some kind of balanced perspective, is a little time away from the technologies that make it so easy to lose that balanced perspective. Maybe being temporarily unable to share every last snippet of your life in selfie-lensed grandeur is actually good for the soul.
Your turn: Do you even care when Twitter, Facebook et al go down?


Lisa said...

For sure! We've come to rely on it. Free or not, life before it or not, it's a useful tool. That doesn't mean there's any reason to get anxious or upset, but I look forward to its return when it's down!

Trudy FOLLICK said...

I had a Twitter account; didn't use it; forgot the password; finally remembered it and deleted account. No I didn't miss it. Facebook I use, but don't care when it is not there.

Tony McGurk said...

I tweet my latest blog & webcomic posts but rarely use it for anything else. I'd really like to see Facebook go down for an extended time just to see how frantic so many people would get. I can live without any of them. My webhost had a server fail on Monday this week & I couldn';t access my blog or webcomic site. It was inconvenient but I survived.