For the past four hours, I thought internet connection was down across Mexico. It seemed strange - why would our home internet AND cellular data both be suddenly down after I successfully (and seamlessly) completed an hour long Zoom session just a few minutes prior? And I topped up cellular data this morning - I shouldn't be out of bandwidth by any stretch. But my Instagram post wasn't posting.... and my messages wouldn't go through on Whatsapp.... and because those were the only two platforms I was using after my call, I made this sweeping judgment that the internet must be down.
Because Instagram and WhatsApp weren't working, I made the sweeping judgment that the entire country of Mexico had no internet connection.
It's the longest I went without communicating with my partner - who's working at a local coffee shop today. I just figured we had no internet and that's living in a foreign country today and it's okay... but it felt 'quiet', and disconnected, and a little eery and a little uneasy... but, I mean... it's okay. Internet won't be out forever.
Because Instagram and Whatsapp weren't working.
-- I didn't realize anything more until I got an email from Mark. Subject Line: So we have no way to communicate.
Wait. WHAT?! How was he emailing me when there's no internet?
I opened the email:
Facebook controls our communication.
I wasn't exactly sure what he meant. I responded in my haze, "I have no internet - home or data." and half-wittingly pressed SEND. I assumed it wouldn't go through.
[ SENT. ]
What?! I followed up quickly: Wait. What?! I DO HAVE INTERNET? - clicked SEND again... message sent. Just no Whatsapp, Instagram, or Facebook??? - finally his message of "Facebook controls our communication." made sense. I hopped over to Google Hangouts - likely for the first time ever - and sent him a message. Does this work?? A few seconds later, I saw him typing a response. Yes. Finally.
I opened up my dormant Twitter account and searched trending hashtags. Facebook is down. Instagram is down. Whatsapp is down. Okay... cool.
But what wasn't cool, is this:
I sent it to Mark.
And then this:
You know... I did find it weird how the other day when I thought about switching my personal instagram account to a business profile (in exchange for insights + analytics, I suppose?) - suddenly my posts literally only reached 3 people. Like, I don't do anything online for the vanity metrics, but I'm used to a certain amount of cheerleaders who consistently interact with my content... to not have any of them engage? obviously the post didn't reach them. But why? Why now? Because suddenly I identified as a business and I'm more valuable by limiting my organic reach in exchange for inflating my insights / analytics as a result of paid ads.
And there I have it.
This morning, my ability to communicate with my life partner, and my other partner's ability to do her work, my ability to communicate with my in-person Goddess clients (whom I've been connected with via Messenger) is held hostage by a mega-corp trying to silence the reach of a whistleblower's message.
Folks... it's 1984. And we need to wake up. Now is probably the time we wake up and realize our bazillions of followers on privately-held platforms mean nothing if that platform can cease to exist in an instant. Now is probably the time we realize that all the hard work we pour into creating meticulously-curated feeds is irrelevant if that feed can be erased in a heartbeat. Maybe it's time we re-focus on real, live, in-person connection?
So what now? how do you create a life, presence, and livelihood in 2021 outside of Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp? Because the past few hours have been a major, major wakeup.
Because this - this is not okay.