Where Were You When Gmail and Facebook Went Down?

Sections: Communications, Uncategorized, Web

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credit: US Dept of Energy

Like much of the web on Monday, I survived a brush with calamity.  I looked into the eye of a post-apocalyptic world where Gmail and Facebook didn’t survive.  We take these services for granted.  Without them, we had an idea of how badly we do (or don’t) need them.   Well, I didn’t fare too well.  My reaction can be best summed up as obsessive denial.

“Gmail crashed”

Let’s start with Gmail.  At my day job, I was chatting with my superior while he sent an email himself.  He attempted to send the message, sat back in his chair with a shocked look on his face, and looked me in the eyes.

“Gmail crashed”

I confused the realization for ignorance and told him that his computer was glitching.  He repeated himself and proceeded to show me a variety of different websites.  I left his office confused. Surely Gmail didn’t crash.  Gmail never crashes. I sat down at my work station and refreshed my open Gmail inbox.  The inbox disappeared and left only my background image.  I was confused and continued to refresh fourteen-thousand more times.  Ok, thats an exaggeration, but I did refresh about ten more times before I realized that Gmail really was down.  As a result, I didn’t get any of my emails (work or personal) until later.  I sat there with my hand in my head while all of my co-workers (mostly a generation older) went about their business as if all was right with the world.   I was forced to resume all of my business on the phone.

GREAT SCOTT! Facebook just crashed too!

Later in the day I drove my fiancee to a relative’s house.  She ran in for a few minutes while I waited in the car. I decided to take a few minutes to check my Facebook News Feed.  As she walked in the house, I leaned my seat back and opened the Facebook website.  It popped up fine.  I refreshed the screen.  Nothing.  This can’t be happening again.  Facebook was down.  I was completely closed off from the outside world.  A friend of mine had just posted awesome off-road pics of his new truck and I wanted to comment, but couldn’t.  I looked in my phone for his number and realized that I didn’t have it.  Some friend I am.

I refreshed my phone and was greeted with an error each time.  My fiancee got in the car and I smiled, as if everything was fine.  I didn’t need to burden her with my pain.

Where were you?

Knee-jerk reactions aside, my day really wasn’t all that affected by the outages.  It also made me aware of something that we tend to forget: the web is vast and has many different facets.  Facebook and Gmail are two web portals in a sea of many.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to pick up the phone and call someone.  If you must use the web, check out a different website and learn something new.   Don’t get me wrong, a long-term lapse in email communication is nothing to sneeze at.  Short term lapses, however, remind us of the vulnerability of every company–even our favorites–to daily hiccups.


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  • CJ McDonald

    “I was completely closed off from the outside world. A friend of mine had just posted awesome off-road pics of his new truck and I wanted to comment, but couldn’t. I looked in my phone for his number and realized that I didn’t have it. Some friend I am.”

    Honestly? Facebook went down and you were closed off from the outside world? All you had to do was go outside! What do you think people did before Facebook? We used other means of communication, which many have forgotten about. It was not Facebook’s fault that you didn’t have their number, and I am not sure if the “Some friend I am” comment is sarcastic or not, but you should have your friend’s numbers in your phone. Facebook being down is not serious. The internet being down, or all of the cell phones in the world being down is serious. Facebook is one website, there are plenty more to choose from if needed. What happened to email, texting, calling, even ‘snail mail’? I can’t believe people thinking that the world is over because Facebook went down.

    I have never registered, or been a part of Facebook. I do not like it at all and it is the worst thing for people to have. What happened to face to face or voice to voice connections with friends? I have heard the “It keeps me in touch with friends and family” argument. That is a bad argument. Are you saying you never kept in touch with them before Facebook? Is it really that hard to pick up your phone if they are far away? Did we forget about the technologies that have led us up to where we are now?