The holy trinity of Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp stopped working for a bit last night – a third time it has happened in the last two years.
The other recent times when “social media not working” was trending were in March and July of 2019, which lead to bouts of mild hysteria (cue the eruption of hashtags #instagramdown #whatsappdown #facebookdown) and many took to Twitter (ironically) to vent their frustration. During the outages, the trio of apps’ billions of users were unable to upload images or videos onto Instagram or Facebook, while on Whatsapp, some were unable to send photos, videos and voice messages.
Facebook, which runs all three platforms, apologised to “all the people and businesses around the world who depend on us” for the nearly six-hour outage on its Engineering page – giving this official explanation for the situation: “Our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication. This disruption to network traffic had a cascading effect on the way our data centers communicate, bringing our services to a halt.” (Yeah, we don’t really know what that means either.)
The next time this happens (and it most likely will, because, technology), here are some things you can do instead of succumbing to FOMO and existential dread.
1. Read a book
There are many scientifically proven facts on why reading brings serious perks to your health and happiness. It increases one’s intelligence, boosts your memory power, makes you more empathetic (for literary fiction readers, anyway) and whisks you away to another world, which helps reduce stress. There’s a reason why the idea of comfort is cuddling in an armchair with tea and a book, not tea and your mobile phone.
Unfortunately, the humble paperback/hardback (or for the tech-savvy, the e-book) has been sidelined in recent times, thanks to the advent of social media. As one article found, you could read 200 books in the time you spend on social media each year.
When all your favourite social media platforms are unavailable, it’s time to reignite the habit or kickstart a new one, for those who have not been on the bandwagon, by reaching for a tome. If it’s not too triggering for those who are jonesing to get back on a plane, why not pick up one of these travel books.
2. Go for a run
This time, the problems with the platforms weren’t noticed until around 11:45 p.m. SGT, which was about 8:45 a.m. PST on the West Coast of the US, where Facebook is based. So while the majority of people here were probably already in bed, many users in other timezones were majorly inconvenienced (or at least irritated).
If your favourite social sites go dark during the daylight hours in the future, consider letting off some steam by going on a jog. Running releases endorphins into your brain, which in turn can reduce stress as well as lessen symptoms of depression, improve heart health and burn calories.
Need some fitspo? Check out these fitness and running apps to make your future workouts more productive or just plain fun.
3. Have a HTHT (heart-to-heart-talk) with someone
Nothing beats face-to-face contact with your loved ones. Often, we are so distracted by the Internet, we keep our heads down, barely looking up to register the presence of someone beside you. But talking about problems, or even just about your day, with family and friends can build bonds, release pent-up feelings and help you see things in a different perspective.
So go on, use this time to really engage someone – pull your husband, sister or even your little ones aside and, you know, chat. Or, give a call to a close friend and check in with them. Especially during these Covid times, it’s even more important to connect with others to protect your mental wellness in times of social isolation.
4. Listen to podcasts
Instead of listening to your music playlist (although that’s fine, too), consider a podcast. Podcasts can sometimes feel like you’re eavesdropping on someone’s conversation or a monologue they’re having with themselves. Bonus: These bite-sized clips can be very informative, intimate and inspirational, and you can learn a thing or two by simply tuning in. Give yourself a boost with these top motivational podcasts of the year.
5. Make a plan for later
We are often swamped with work or whatnots and fail to factor in some proper work-life balance on top of our distractions (Instagram Stories on auto-play, anyone?). Things get pushed down the priority list and we procrastinate. But a social media outage means you can devote time to your relationships IRL.
Plan a nice dinner for you and your partner and go ahead and make the reservations, or book a future staycation or a family day out. Think of creative ways to make your next available time together good quality fun – there’s no better time than now to put your loved ones first.
6. Sign up for online lessons
Why not use your impromptu social media detox to learn a new language? Duolingo, for instance, says you can learn a language for free in just five minutes a day. Every lesson in Duolingo gives you experience points (XP) and you can earn “streaks”, which you lose if you miss a day (Google it, losing a streak on Duolingo is a thing).
For that matter, there are plenty of websites where you can brush up on your skills or gain new ones. Always wanted to play ukelele? Want to learn how to code? Now’s your time to explore those interests.
7. Do some decluttering
We won’t lie, the idea of organising your stuff doesn’t exactly sound like fun. But just think how good you’ll feel when you finally get to the bottom of that cluttered fill-in-the-blank container, cupboard or closet!
And you don’t need to spend hours doing it, unless you just want to. Try these easy decluttering tips to clean up 20 key areas of your home in 15 minutes or less. That way, by the time Instagram is back, you’ll be ready to chronicle your decluttering feat for your followers.
8. Get creative with your photos
Go through the older pictures in your phone or computer’s albums and see what you can do with them. Chances are, many didn’t make it to your social media feeds and have been nearly forgotten. Sob!
Digitally, you can make creative collages or posters using apps in the market – such as Canva, Moldiv, Unfold and Adobe Spark Post – which let you add borders, banners, stickers, texts filters and the like.
Or, go old-school, and print them out. Then, display them as happiness-inducing home decor. Here are 10 creative uses for travel photos, in particular.
Too much work? Just get your pics ready for a throw-back #photodump once the social platforms are back in action.
9. Grab a journal
Since you may be feeling a little discombulated by being so abruptly cut off from your social networks and WhatsApp contacts, this is perfect time to put pen to paper and do a little venting or simple reflection. As one of The Finder‘s writers recently noted, “Whether it be writing about something you’re grateful for or an emotional dump, journaling can go a long way to improve your mental health.”
10. Catch up on your sleep
If you’re one of those people who often falls asleep with their face in a screen, first let us say: No judgement. But, according to these surprising hacks to sleep better, this habit may help explain why you’re not getting proper rest.
Specifically, staying on your devices at night keeps your brain engaged, and the blue light emmited by phones and other screens supresses melatonin (a.k.a., the hormone that helps to control your sleep-wake cycle). Meaning? You fall asleep later, which affects the quality of your sleep and energy levels the next day.
So, instead of looking at your short break from socmed as a bad thing, consider it an opportunity to reset your sleep clock. Your body, mind and mood will thank you.
By Joy Fang, 4 July 2019 / Last updated: Sara Lyle Bow, October 2021