The text message, email, Google groups, the good old phone call made a resounding comeback on Monday afternoon when Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter went down, forcing people who did not realise how much the platforms had become a huge fabric of their lives scampering for ways to communicate.
At around 5:40pm I noticed that my WhatsApp messages were not going through, neither was I able to access my Facebook account. I tried to switch my Internet network but it did not seem to help.
I soon realised that the Internet had not gone down, just Facebook and its two siblings.
Facebook actually confirmed this and said: “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
At the time of writing, it was unclear what caused the issue although the company has suffered outages before.
It made me realise how the Internet has become synonymous with Mark Zuckerberg’s babies especially in developing countries like Malawi where the Internet is only accessible because it's bundled.
It also made me realise how reliant we are on such networks, how much of our information is vested with them; how much of our communication is reliant on them. What do we stand to lose if they were to go down perpetually!
But I also looked at it as an opportunity for other platforms such as Telegram that have struggled to gain mileage, to be noticed. Sadly, the other applications have not been built to handle excessive traffic.
Even Twitter was reported to have slowed down.
But is this the end of social networks as we know them? I doubt it, but it’s a sign that the monopoly of information might not last forever.
We have proverbs after all that says don’t store your eggs in one basket. Yet the platforms have somehow hoodwinked us into thinking that what our old sages said was not entirely true, that we can vest everything with them.
They (platforms) have fought so hard to constrict others out of this business.
Could we be seeing an end to such monopolies, may be not... But it will certainly spark, a rethink!