MURPHY'S LAW Social media creating social distancing - and more dog photos

By Patrick Murphy

Does everyone remember where they were when Facebook went down?

Were you prepared? Did you stock up on toilet paper?

The social media app, and all of its connected apps, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, were down for several hours Monday.

Facebook blamed it on Internet infrastructure that coordinates the traffic between its data centers, whatever that means.

What most people felt was a loss, a loss of being able to connect to the outside world. 

Funny how something that has been around less than 20 years has had such an impact on us.

Facebook has exited about 17 years, yet we seem to rely on it as if it were sustenance.

No matter how much we complain about it, no matter how much we find out about it, no matter how much stress it causes us, we cannot break the habit.

I have a personal Facebook account and one for the newspaper.

I rarely post anything on my personal account, unless it’s dog photos — and everyone should post their dog photos — or pictures from family trips to Disney.

I do not use Facebook enough to promote the newspaper. Every week I tell myself I need to, and almost every week I forget.

I wonder how the people who lived before Facebook got by. There are billions around the world who use the app, and people have become so addicted to it that picking up their phones and opening the app has becomes second nature.

It is reported more than 3.5 billion people around the world use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family, share political opinions (there’s and others), and promote businesses by advertising to reach people.

We have become so dependent on it that when it’s gone people feel like they have lost an extension of themselves — not a very good sign for society.

We used to read while sitting on the toilet, now we’re sitting on the toilet while using our phones. Probably not a good idea to ever borrow someone’s phone.

So what did people do without Facebook and Instagram and the other apps? Most headed over to Twitter to mock Facebook.

There are about 175 million who use Twitter, another social media app that connects people through short conversations about their everyday life, politics and more dog photos.

It really is depressing to think how dependent we have become on our phones and the social media apps we have downloaded on our phones.

Social media has replaced talking to one another. We don’t buy our phones to use  primarily as phones, we buy them for all the other features. Most prefer to text rather than call someone as we are happy to socially distance unless asked to.

Social media was meant for good, for connecting people, keeping us in touch with friends and family near and far — and sharing dog pictures.

It turned into a way to scream at people, intimidate people, threaten people, bully people and spread disinformation. We all know it, we all know the dangers of social media, yet we cannot quit it, and when a glitch forces it offline, it causes a panic. Yet another reason to have a dog.

Patrick Murphy, editor-publisher of the Humphrey Democrat and Newman Grove Reporter in Nebraska, is a former assistant managing editor at The Telegram.