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.
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.
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.