Friday 7 August 2009

In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream

Twitter went down for a while yesterday. Apparently, it suffered a "denial-of-service attack". Essentially, too many people were directed to the site at the same time, which stopped those actually wanting to use the site from logging on. I can honestly say that as much as I enjoy using Twitter to pass the time, the very fact that it was offline for a few hours didn't bother me in the slightest. I wish that I had so little on my mind that I could be devastated at the loss of a social networking site. There is even a trending topic on Twitter today, #whentwitterwasdown. I couldn't resist adding my own thoughts - "I simply got on with my life. I just didn't tell anyone about it."

Reading the answers of others, they range from people being unaware that Twitter was down, to people assuming they must have a problem with their Internet, to people simply not caring, to people feeling isolated or lonely that they could no longer connect through the Internet. I can relate to the first and third groups, as there is plenty that can be done that doesn't involve Twitter. Work, for example. One user tweeted that she hadn't realised Twitter was down because she was spending time with friends in the real world. Another tweeted that she spent the time catching up on reading blogs. Someone else started combing Amazon for bargains.

As for the second group, I find it slightly worrying that users place so much faith in the power of a social networking site that they believe that the Internet itself must be having problems, rather than accepting an individual site may be plagued by technical gremlins. It reminds me of the time Google went down, and people began predicting that Google being offline would be the death of the net.

As for the fourth group...I truly hope that those who tweeted about suffering withdrawal symptoms are being sarcastic or facetious. I find it slightly worrying that people have become so addicted to being able to constantly tell people every little thing that pops into their heads. It's like digital Tourettes. Twitettes, perhaps? So you couldn't publicise the minutiae of your life for a couple of hours...big deal! What did you do before Twitter came along? You probably picked up the phone and talked to someone that you actually know, out there in the real world. Yes, I know the world is big, and scary, and often a harsh environment, but it's real. It's concrete. It actually exists. You can have proper relationships with people, and actually enjoy the company of a real human being.

I know some people use Twitter as part of their work and naturally, its absence must have been frustrating, but no more than if you'd had a power cut and couldn't get online in the first place. Technology will always have its ups and downs and you have to learn to roll with the punches. Use the time you'd normally spend on Twitter doing something else. Maybe you'll find a more productive way to do something. Learn to see the world slightly differently, instead of through Twitter-shaped spectacles.

In cyberspace, no one can hear you scream. Unless, of course, you feel compelled to tweet the fact that you're screaming, in which case it's akin to running into a room filled with people and shouting "I am screaming!" before running back out again.


Anonymous said...


ChloƩ P. Kovac said...

My twitter is still not working. I can read people's tweets but can't post any of my own. Which is fine, as I don't have anything all that interesting to twit about today.

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