A couple of weeks ago, on Thursday 14th March, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp suffered an outage for approximately 12 hours. Their websites were offline worldwide due to technical difficulties. I didn’t notice, as I didn’t attempt to access any of those websites during that time – I was busy doing other things in the real world. But apparently a lot of people did notice, because the emergency hotline, triple zero, was flooded with calls from people who couldn’t access their favourite social media platform. I’m not joking! Thousands of people across Australia considered it an emergency that warranted a triple zero call. In fact, so many people called the emergency hotline that Queensland police had to issue a media release urging people to stop clogging up the hotline with calls about Facebook and Instagram!
It causes you to stop and think doesn’t it? Apparently some people are so addicted to social media that when it is taken from them for a few hours, their whole world falls apart. Their temporary inability to post photos of the coffee and cake they are about to consume is a national emergency. Their inability to post photos of themselves having a wonderful day ruins their whole day.
Was the temporary outage a crisis for you? Did it rate as a national emergency? Hopefully you had a slightly more sane response. But the incident caused me to reflect on our priorities as a society. What is really important to us? What do we consider to be a crisis?
120,000 people around Australia slept on the street last night because they were homeless. Every 5 seconds, somewhere in the world, a child dies of starvation. Every minute, 25 people die because of a lack of clean drinking water. Every hour, 700 people die of malaria. Over 1 billion people will go to bed tonight with an empty stomach. That’s what I define as a crisis. Those are issues that are really important – that demand our attention. Compared to those issues, a Facebook outage is nothing. It’s a “first-world problem”.
Whether you are an atheist or a Buddhist or a Christian, one thing you have to admire about Jesus is his concern for the needy. He fed the hungry and healed the sick and welcomed the outcast. In fact he spent so much of his time with the disadvantaged and the socially unacceptable that his enemies called him a “friend of sinners”. They used it as a derogatory term, but the truth is you couldn’t have said anything nicer about Jesus.
What about us? I suspect that most days we don’t even give a thought to the crisis that is facing our world. For many of us a crisis is defined as loss of internet connection and an inability to stream Netflix. I’ve been thinking about this issue a bit lately. I am trying to do 3 things:
- Be thankful to God for the blessings that I have every day
- Become more aware of the real crisis of world poverty and inequality
- Do more to share some of my wealth with those who are genuinely in crisis.
What about you?