Social Media Shut Down On My Birthday

On the afternoon of October 4th something happened that shook the hearts of many Millennials and Gen Zs…Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp went dark for six hours! How were we going to connect, stay in touch, get our entertainment, share pics of our food, pets and birthday makeup (just me?)! As someone whose screen time is way too high, this made an impact on my day in a few ways.

I have the bad habit of waking up every morning and immediately checking my phone. If you are an avid social media user I am sure you can relate. I run my own Instagram for my makeup page (shameless self plug – @MakeupByZandy) and I manage social media for my 9-5, so for most of the day my phone is attached to my hip. It is also where I go for entertainment, news, socialization, etc…especially during the pandemic. When I woke up on my birthday I reached for my phone eager to see who had already shared a photo of me. At this point there were a few lovely well wishes that made me smile, I put my phone down and went to work. Around 9:30 I was looking forward to checking my phone again, I opened the Instagram app and tried to refresh the feed and there was a loading error. Odd, I tried again, another error. I closed out the app, re-opened it, another error. Now this seemed suspicious so I turned to the next social platform for birthday wishes, Facebook. I tried to open the app to see who had written on my profile…another error. This was also odd but not uncommon, the strangest thing was that both social channels were down at the same time. so I looked to google for help. As google does it shared results that there was a large bug in the system leading Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp to a network error.

This network error lasted six hours, SIX! I have never experienced a social media shutdown for that long. Besides a loss of birthday wishes, many businesses lost control of their social ecommerce sites as well as communications and engagements with their followers. I followed the outage all day to wait for any breaking news or update that could tell us what happened. If you didn’t know, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook are all underneath the parent company of Facebook (now Meta).

As the hours passed by I received a few messages about the shutdown, “Sorry Instagram is down on your birthday!” and “I can’t believe Facebook is down, that’s how I know when it’s someone’s birthday!”. To be honest, it was a let down at first. Social media has become such a constant in everyone’s lives as a way to communicate virtually. The disappointment soon faded as I felt how liberating it was not feeling the magnetic pull to my phone to check Instagram constantly. The mundane, yet entertaining, repetition of opening and scrolling and opening and scrolling. I must admit that since the blackout I still check social platforms constantly throughout the day but it did open my eyes to a few things.

  1. Don’t rely on one channel for all of your business. What if one of these apps shut down forever? If you just use Instagram to promote your brand and it disappears, how will your followers know where else to connect with you? If you haven’t already, start building relationships on other platforms as well as outside of social media. Create a blog, a website, an email list, etc., other community platforms you can engage with your consumers/followers.
  2. Don’t rely on social media to build your relationships and receive important updates on people you care about. Reading a personal text from someone wishing me a happy birthday is so much nicer than having a friend just post on social media. Don’t get me wrong, both are very nice, but I love getting a heartwarming message from my favorite people. I’m sure most of you feel this way too. So the next time you see someone post something exciting on Instagram I encourage you to actually reach out to them personally in addition to writing a comment or message on social.
  3. Set aside time each day to actively not get distracted by those apps. Moving my phone to a different room or setting a timer has helped me take a break I didn’t realize I needed. Even though I love social media and the way we can all connect, I do think it can be toxic at times. If you are like me and know you are addicted, I recommend trying these tactics to give yourself a much needed break (just remember where you place your phone!).

To some people this may seem silly, how could only six hours make such an impact? For creators and small businesses that make their livelihood by promoting and sharing content online this was a big deal. Some lost thousands of dollars just from those few hours. It led creators to no longer trust social media and realize they need to diversify their content.

All in all, I still had an amazing birthday and got to spend more time talking to friends and family. Thank you all for supporting me! I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of these blogs! If you want to be notified when I post make sure to fill out your email.

Remember, every day is a new day.

3 thoughts on “Social Media Shut Down On My Birthday

  1. Hi, this was very exciting to read your thoughts and the insights you learned but your experience. Since I am probably one of the few people that have no social media connections, I can still see how important they can be for so many people, especially the younger generations.


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