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Where Were You When Whatsapp Crashed?

05/05/2017 12:14:12 PM


This week 1.2 billion people entered a state of panic. The popular Whatsapp digital message service experienced problems and went offline for a few hours. I’m hoping that most people have since recovered!

Which got me thinking…

As with everybody else, I too was inconvenienced by the outage, in three ways:

  1. Someone had messaged be just prior to the outage and I was unable to respond right away. When the service returned and the pending messages came through, that person’s impatience was visible.
  2. We coordinate our daily minyan through a WhatsApp group, so the minyan that afternoon experienced its own outage.
  3. I had neglected to responsibly arrange an errand in advance, and my failed last minute attempt caused a great inconvenience.

After the storm calmed down, it was an appropriate time to reflect upon the role of modern technology in our lives. Way back when, when milk was still being delivered by horse and buggy, people somehow managed to live happy and productive lives. To be honest, most of world history lived without the great technological advances of the past two centuries.

The technological revolution, perhaps begun by the industrial revolution in the 19th century, certainly brought us great wonders. They made our lives easier, more comfortable and more productive. The best attitude to approach these new phenomena is to realize that they ought to add to our lives, and not to replace ancient ethos and values.

The car allows us to travel to more and further places quicker, and to gain access to greater resources. Though it should not be used to drive to the gym or a friend’s home two blocks away.

During the summer, air conditioning provides us with the relief of calm and comfortable time in our homes, and the luxury to get a good night’s sleep. Though it should not detract from the time we spend outdoors soaking in healthy sunlight and fresh air.

Digital messaging ensures that we can get important messages delivered to more people much quicker. Though it should not replace quality face-to-face conversation between friends and lovers.

In summary, technology should be used for expedience, but not on principle.

The three inconveniences I experienced during the outage are great reminders about things we should be more mindful about:

  1. When we send a message to someone, we should not have the expectation that they are simply sitting around, doing nothing and awaiting our message. Just because we have the time right now to communicate, the recipient might not. As important as our message might be, respecting another person by acknowledging that they also lead an independent life is equally important.
  2. When we make a commitment, such as to a meeting or a minyan, or to run an errand, or to call someone, we also make a commitment to be committed to the commitment. Which means that if necessary we set our own reminders, and don’t expect, or wait for, another person’s reminder. This is, in fact, what sets apart adults from children. Adults are expected to be reliable and trustworthy.
  3. How did parents arrange carpool before cell-phones were invented? And how did one be sure to purchase all their necessary groceries before technology allowed them to send real-time updates to their Instacart shopper? They learned to be more responsible by planning the arrangements well in advance.

We mustn’t let technology erode these important values, like being respectful, dependable and responsible.

I’m very thankful that Whatsapp is back online. But I’m also hopeful that we will capitalize on the outage by improving the way in which we make use of the great technologies in our lives.

Fri, December 3 2021 29 Kislev 5782