On Friday, there was a Facebook outage for a short period in the morning. And some people called 911. Seriously.
Listen, I’m as anxious as the next person to see whether or not my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is prettier than me or not, but Facebook going down IS NOT A LEGITIMATE REASON TO CALL 911!
From the LA Times:
Officials at one Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department station were not happy after getting calls from residents because Facebook went down Friday morning.
“#Facebook is not a Law Enforcement issue, please don’t call us about it being down, we don’t know when FB will be back up!” Sheriff’s Sgt. Burton Brink of the Crescenta Valley station wrote on Twitter. In a later tweet, he said an unknown number of people called 911 about the outage.
— Sgt. Brink (@LASDBrink) August 1, 2014
I see two rather large issues here, so I’ll just attack them individually:
1) Dependency on social media: I get it. I am guilty of it. I Facebook, Twitter and Instagram the shit out of my life. I love sharing pictures and links and thoughts and all that. I try not to fall in to the over-sharing or Vaguebook traps (you know what I’m talking about: I’m so sad, someone please ask me why), and by no means is it key to my survival.
I’m from the era when playing Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was a treat. I started high school as AOL chat rooms were taking off. I remember how instantly addictive AOL was. All of a sudden, you had the world at your fingertips (and by the world, I mean the 37-year old creeper from Buffalo who told you that you were pretty without ever seeing a picture), and could hide behind a dial-up connection in the privacy of your parents’ basement.
Even though social media wasn’t really present immediately, the addiction to the internet started as soon as Al Gore invented it. We’ve become dependent on it for various reasons and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. It’s easy to hide behind 140-character Twitter posts and constantly check to see who is “liking” your status, but there’s a real world out there that you’re missing when Facebook going down is enough in one’s mind to warrant a 911 call.
Calling 911 because Facebook is down is like saying you can’t breathe. Overdramatic much? Let’s take baby steps. Try giving it up for a day. One day. When you wake up the next morning intact, you’ll be a better person for it. I’ll do it with you! We can get through this together.
2) Being dumb enough to call 911 in the first place: When Facebook went down, why was calling 911 the first thought of multiple people? Did they expect the dispatcher to be all, “You’re in luck, Mark Zuckerberg is sitting right here next to me working on it!”
I am sitting here unable to fathom the stupidity of those who called 911 because Facebook was down. It’s one thing to be addicted to Candy Crush and Farmville, but it is quite another to want to involve the police when you can’t play it for an hour. I suspect those who called 911 during a Facebook outage are the same people who vote for American Idol and Dancing With the Stars but not, you know, the President, or some such.
We don’t know the details behind who called 911, whether it was bored teenagers, adults who should know better but didn’t, or what. But the next time Facebook goes down, take a deep breath and go outside to Instagram a photo of the world not ending as a result. Or, god forbid (and this is going to make me sound like Dorothy Zbornak, and minus a million points if you don’t get the reference) but READ A BOOK. Call a friend (but NOT 911). DO something. Else. Thanks.
This is not the first nor last time Facebook will go down. Twitter will go down. Hell, Google will go down. A storm might screw up your entire wireless connection. All of these things are survivable. Last Friday’s influx of 911 calls due to a social media outage is the epitome of #firstworldproblems.