COLUMN: The day the world came to a screeching halt

On October 4th, the world came to a screeching halt  

Well, not really, but it certainly felt like itFor around six hours on Monday, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were out of operation. It’s unclear what caused the disruptionsome experts suggest it may have been an internal mistake. Whatever happened, it resulted in a day with an unusual level of productivity 

With Instagram out, I left my 11 a.m. class and wondered what I should do.  Typically, I use Instagram to decompress between classes, but now I had to find something else. After a long weekend of traveling and eating out, I decided on heading to the rec center. I had no social media to distract me, which resulted in a pretty good workout. Instagram still wasn’t working by the time I sat down at my desk again and stared at a blank computer.  

“Well,” I thought, attempting to refresh my feed for at least the tenth time. “My phone can’t be a distraction right now. Might as well get some work done.” I put my phone on the desk next to me and began to chip away at the editing process for an essay. With no notifications or Instagram group chats to distract me, I finished quickly, and I stared at the clock. There were still several hours to fill until my next meeting, so I decided to just work ahead. I was able to complete a number of tasks, including making a sizeable dent in a project for my drawing class, and still had a half hour of open space. Now, as I write this, I have no homework for the rest of the night. I can now spend it catching up on my favorite shows and relaxing. My stress levels are low, and I feel refreshed – all because of a day with limited social media.  

Social media blackouts can be a blessing in disguise. With our distractions forcibly removed, we have no choice but to work on ourselves, whether that be through homework, hobbies, or taking care of our bodies and simply resting. Monday’s blackout has shown me just how distracting my phone can be when I am trying to work. Going forward, I’ll be more intentional about putting my phone out of sight during working hours. It’s just so much easier to focus on the task at hand when you’re not worried about when your friends will text back. 

That being said, we often focus on the negatives of social media sites, and I’m guilty of that even in this column. However, not having access to social media can also have devastating effects. Many businesses rely on social media to spread by word-of-mouth and make sales. Without social media, there are quite a few small business owners who have lost a day’s worth of earnings. Businesses, including Facebook and WhatsApp themselves, were left in a lurch as their tools of communication went down. Personally, some of my closest friends and I communicate solely via Instagram because of its group chatting abilities. Not being able to communicate well with them for a while took a bit of spark out of my day.  

In conclusion, look at your social media blackout day. Were you more productive? Did you feel more relaxed at the end of the day, or were you even more stressed? Use this day to think about how the roles social media and other distractions play in your life. What do you need a blackout from? 

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