The inconvenience of the recent inaccessibility of social media

A couple in bed using their phones
A couple in bed using their smart phones (Photo credit: Ketut Subiyanto)

On Monday 4 October 2021, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp stopped working all over the world due an outage. Young people were among the many affected. The outage, which lasted for six hours, must have affected the social media junkies – the younger generation.

Shiniah Rodney, 20, has been overseas for over three months and she uses Whatsapp to connect with family and friends here in Jamaica. When the outage occurred, she felt down as she wondered if the app would ever start working again. The cell phone number that she uses on Whatsapp is the only number she has, as she also uses it to call a taxi to go home from work. Rodney shared that she had not paid her phone bill and Whatsapp was the only way to call a taxi. After work she had to walk 45 minutes to reach home. “I wish I had an I-phone so that I could have used iMessage”, said Rodney.

Orville Bailey, employee at Starfish Oils Limited, said he was at work when the outage of the social media apps occurred. He mostly uses Whatsapp but it is not his primary method of communication. Bailey said his main mode of communicating with people is by calling them directly. The outage did not affect him as he does not use Instagram or Facebook.

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Lori-Ann Scarlett, first year student at The Mico University College says she uses Whatsapp for educational purposes only as she participates in school groups. The app is her main source of communication with her lecturers and classmates. The same day Flow WiFi was down so, at first, she thought that the WiFi was the problem. “I was frustrated”, said Scarlett. She is not an Instagram or Facebook user. She waited for the Whatsapp Messenger to come back so she could prepare some documents. She felt angry because the one day she did not have any credit or the means to get it Whatsapp went down.

Brittney McKenzie, upper sixth student at the Central High School, told the Jamaica Monitor that after the outage she went on Netflix and TikTok to replace her need to socialize. She uses both Instagram and Whatsapp as her primary communication apps but she had to call friends straight away. She uses a Samsung phone which has the Digicel Bip app to communicate with friends who have Digicel Sim cards. McKenzie just had to wait until Whatsapp was up again to talk to other friends.

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