So I wasn’t having any luck logging into Turo (car rental app) on Monday using my Facebook credentials. I figured it was a technical glitch with my iPhone. Little did I know then that the entire world almost imploded because Facebook was down for six whole frickin’ hours. We’re just lucky we managed to survive this apocalyptic event ;-)
In addition to that cataclysmic crisis, I caught a few minutes on CNN of the news coverage about the Facebook whistleblower testifying before the U.S. Senate. Then as I was driving to coffee this morning, there it was again on NPR. I bet if I turned on Fox News right now, they’d be covering it, too. Apparently, everything is Facebook’s fault!
First an outage. Then an outrage.
(Cue “It’s the End of the World” by R.E.M.)
For six glorious hours on October 4, 2021, all was right in the world (Well, almost. We were still stuck with Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat.) But for some people, those six hours without Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp was hell on earth. Couple that with the craziness on Capitol Hill and you’d have thought Armageddon had come.
First an outage. Then an outrage. So—people are upset about their lives being disrupted by the same social media giant whose policies are apparently ruining their lives in the first place. Isn’t that like complaining about having a mouth full of cavities and then blaming it on the companies who make your daily dose of sugared breakfast cereals?
Even if the U.S. Congress passes laws and puts regulations on big tech, aren’t people still in control of their personal choices? After all, we still purchase the product, pour the milk, and hold the spoon, right? There are healthier choices for breakfast—no one is forcing Fruit Loops® on you at gun point. And no one is making you use social media.
Accountability is hard. Blame is easy.
Social media doesn’t control our lives. It’s Facebook, not heroin. Are there addictive qualities to social media and screen time? Yes, they have become real mental health disorders. But no one is sticking a needle in our arms. We have choices. And choices have consequences. So before we start blaming Mark Zuckerberg for our children’s inability to concentrate or on their crumbling self-image, perhaps we need to take responsibility and replace their Coco Puffs® with scrambled eggs. Or at least set limits on the usage of media devices—regardless of age.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m no fan of Facebook. Nor am I naïve to the yearnings of young people—I spent 30 years of my life in youth work. I also have raised two sons. So I’m not an unreliable narrator. But I am unwilling to allow people to point fingers for their own poor choices. Parents can set parameters. And people can put down devices. Twelve-step programs can be avoided if we implement more self-control.
Accountability is hard. Blame is easy. If you blame others for your problems, you will also look to others to solve them for you. Living with authenticity in an artificial world starts by learning to take responsibility for personal choices.
As a person who spends a significant part of my life traveling and working in West and East Africa, Northern India, and other developing nations, I understand the real problem an outage causes on people’s lives—not just the inconvenience. I also realize how social media is critical for many of our jobs and incomes today. Does big tech manipulate our lives? Of course they do. My point is intended for us all to see a bigger picture and start taking responsibility for choices we have control over every day.