Back in February of 2007, a series of computer glitches spurred by heavy electronic trading volume sent the Dow plummeting 178 points in less than a minute. Or at least, it looked that way. The mess was straightened out over the next few days, but it left many jittery about how quickly things can go sideways on a platform designed for hyper-processing.
Last Thursday, Facebook’s engineers must have felt the same way as a series of automated systems designed to fix software problems combined to make things worse, creating a paralyzing feedback loop and ultimately forcing them to take the entire site offline temporarily. That outage lasted for about 2½ hours for millions of Facebook’s half-billion users. And it built on anxieties created by another unrelated outage one day earlier.
What was amazing is how long those two and a half hours apparently felt to the hundreds of thousands of social networkers tweeting their displeasure.
What was probably even more amazing was how many of those were tweeting about it from work. Which begs the question: “Do social networks serve a role at the workplace?”
From my perspective, I’d say yes, but it’s a highly-qualified yes. As someone in marketing, you have to be well-acquainted with it. Facebook is the only new social platform that’s truly marketing-friendly and it’s pervasiveness can’t be underestimated. That said, it’s also an incredible timesuck, absorbing minutes and hours through small talk and distraction. And yes, I’ve wasted plenty of time on it that I will never get back. It’s also hard to concentrate deeply if at any moment, some old high school friend might pop in with a link to giggling puppies and barking babies…
I don’t advocate that companies create firewalls or unilaterally ban Facebook, but like so many things in modern life, the real solution must begin at the individual level. If missing it for those two and half hours made you crazy, perhaps you it’s time to be honest with yourself and put the bottle down. Like alcohol, nicotine, or any other addictive substance, you gotta know when to say when.
Most times, work isn’t when.
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79