It wasn’t a tornado or a hurricane that blew a town’s residents into a wave of hysteria, it was something far worse. The day that Facebook shut down, residents were forced to learn how to survive on personal interaction as opposed to the internet; something no one should have to suffer through.
Jenny takes a bite of the crispy, buttered toast as she gathers a few files and shoves them into her purse. Through the open window, she can see the sun rising, which only reminds her that she has eight hours of work ahead of her. With her laptop on the kitchen counter, she checks her email only to find her inbox empty. “Impossible” she says to herself. Jenny always has at least five emails awaiting her every morning, all from Facebook notifying Jenny that friends have commented or posted on her wall. Closing out of her email, she immediately goes to the Facebook login site and enters her username and password. Nothing. She hits the ‘enter’ key again hoping for a different outcome. A pop-up appears. Error 101. A look of disappointment appears on her face. She tries again only to be given the same results, Error 101. She looks at the clock. “I’m late!”
Jenny runs out to her car but stalls before getting in. The street, normally crowded with school buses and cars is empty. Parents who gather by the bus stop and see their kids off to school each morning are absent. “Is it Saturday?” She looks at her phone and confirms that it’s Wednesday. She looks around, hoping to see someone walking down the street or a car driving by. Silence. “Maybe it’s a school holiday,” she says reassuring herself. The drive to work remains unsettling lonely. Continuously, Jenny attempts to login to Facebook only to be given the same message, “Error 101”. The inability to login frustrates her so much she fails to notice she’s the only car on the road. “Why won’t Facebook work?” she yells, hitting the steering wheel in anger. She arrives at work, pulling into the parking garage located next door to her office. Whereas she normally spends ten minutes searching for a parking spot, this morning she’s able to find a vacant spot in front. Her excitement quickly grows to concern when she notices the car parked next to her. The driver’s door is open with the keys still in the ignition. “What happened?” she asks herself. Running to the front of the garage where two parking attendants are always stationed, she finds the station empty. “Where is everyone?” Her voice echoes throughout the garage with no response. Fear rushes over her, prompting Jenny to run out of the garage and into the office building. Storming through the main doors, she bumps right into Albert, an accountant who sits three desks down from her.
“I’m sorry Albert,” she apologizes, trying to catch her breath.
Albert looks more frazzled than usual. His short curly hair hasn’t been combed and he’s only wearing one shoe. “What are you doing here?” he asks.
Jenny looks around only to see an empty office. “Where is everyone Albert?”
“Don’t you know?”
“Know what? Know what?” she screams.
“Facebook shut down.”
Jenny gasps, covering her mouth with her hand. “When did this happen?”
“They don’t know the exact time. The first record they have is 4 o’clock a.m. Didn’t you hear the news?”
“Who has time to watch the news?” Jenny snaps. “I tried logging on a few times but it kept saying there was an error.”
“Some speculate this might be the end of Facebook.”
“They’re calling it the Facebook Apocalypse.”
“It can’t be the end of Facebook. What will we do? How do they expect us to survive?”
“I don’t know. They’ve closed down all the offices, schools and stores, except Starbucks. Starbucks is open and offering free coffee.”
“I can’t drink coffee at a time like this. What am I supposed to do?”
Albert takes Jenny by the hand. “Come with me. I’m going to the Starbucks across the street where they’re holding a support group for Facebook survivors.”
Jenny feels lost and alone. Everything is closed. She doesn’t have anyone’s number, just their Facebook page. “Okay.” She follows Albert outside.
Whereas the sun was awake and bright early this morning, it’s now hiding between a mountain of clouds, leaving the sky damp and gray. The streets are littered with empty soda cans and fast food wrappers. People roam the streets calling out the names of family members and friends. A man runs down the intersection, his body on fire and covered in flames. “Dislike!” he screams, “dislike!” An elderly lady stands at the corner holding a sign that reads “The End is Here, God Save Your Facebook Souls”. Albert holds on to Jenny and guides her across the street. A young woman approaches them.
“Excuse me but have you seen my sister?” the lady asks. She holds up a piece of paper with a drawing of what looks to be a woman on it.
“Is that supposed to be your sister?” Albert asks pointing to the drawing.
“Yes, it’s the best I could draw. All my pictures are on Facebook. I don’t have any pictures, except on Facebook.
“I’m sorry but I haven’t seen her,” he replies.
“It’s the best I could draw,” she whimpers.
Albert nudges Jenny and they continue towards the Starbucks. Inside, it’s packed with scared and frightened Facebook survivors. One guy at the counter is taking shot after shot of caffeine. “I can’t handle this!” he cries out, downing another gulp of liquid courage. A girl sits huddled in the corner crying. “Someone could have died, had a baby, gotten married and I have no idea!” she sobs. Two high school students are arguing by the coffee display counter.
“You cheated on me with that fat and ugly chic?” the girl screams. Holding her cell phone she waves her hand over her head, creating a dramatic gesture.
“I just accepted her friend request, that’s all!” the boy hollers back. “I didn’t cheat on you!” Before Facebook shut down, an incident like this would have drawn attention to the teenagers; however, no one notices them now. Nor do they pay attention to the old lady hiding under a table. Instead, they’re all consumed with their own grief.
A man in his late forties climbs up on the counter and faces the crowd. “Excuse me,” he calls out. The cries and screaming continue. Clearing his throat, he tries again, this time yelling out “Facebook”. Everyone stops and turns their attention toward him. “I’m Dr. Jones and I’m here to help you through what they’re calling the Facebook Apocalypse. We haven’t heard any updates about Facebook but all we can do during this time is deal with it in a calm manner.” The girl sobbing in the corner lets out a cry. Dr. Jones continues “If everyone could get in a circle, I have an exercise we can do.” Jenny follows instructions and helps formulate a circle. “Let’s try this first,” Dr. Jones begins. “Everyone go around and say what your Facebook status would be if you were online right now.”
“But Facebook is down,” a kid points out.
“Yes I know that but since we can’t actually be on Facebook, this will have to do.”
“I’ll start. Andy Jones is trying to help others but getting no success.”
The lady next to him goes “Lacy Specks is sick of the smell of coffee.”
“Lisa Sams feels like I’m going to die.”
“Alan Sanders is frustrated.”
The teenage boy who was fighting with his girlfriend speaks next. “Richard James is single and ready to mingle”.
Richard’s ex-girlfriend follows. “Emily Smith is single and hates high school boys.”
Jenny’s turn is approaching. She doesn’t know what to do. She isn’t capable of speaking aloud what’s on her mind. She isn’t used to it.
“Andy Blake wants pizza.”
It’s Jenny’s turn now. All eyes are on her. “I, I can’t do this,” she blurts out.
“Sure you can,” Dr. Jones assures her.
“No, I can’t. It’s too hard, I can’t.”
Dr. Jones walks over to her. “Maybe this will help. Put your hands up like this and just air-type your status update while you say it aloud.”
Jenny takes a deep breathe. Lifting her hand up she presses Shift + K and types out her name. “Jenny Marks is….all alone.” The circle clasps.
“Good job Jenny,” Dr. Jones congratulates her. Albert goes next.
“Albert Grinch is hungry. Where can I get some donuts?”
The group goes around till everyone has verbally updated their Facebook status. Some befriended others and comment on their status updates. One woman throws Albert an actual donut from behind the counter. Afterwards the circle breaks up and people disperse throughout the Starbucks. A young girl around Jenny’s age comes over to her. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” she asks.
Jenny shakes her head. “I don’t think so.”
“Wait, I do! You’re one of my friends,” the girl says.
“I don’t think so.”
“Sure I am. Here maybe this will help you get a better idea.” The girl uses her coffee cup to treat it as an alcoholic drink and does a supermodel pose with pursed lips.
“O-M-G Lucy!” Jenny yells. “I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you until you did your Facebook picture.
Lucy giggles, “it took me a few minutes to realize it was you.”
“So, how have you been?” Jenny asks.
Lucy nods her head. “Good, just the same old, same old. You?”
“The same. Working, hanging out with friends, you know.” Both girls nod and stand in awkward silence.
Albert runs over. “Twitter created a support group for Facebook survivors.” He pulls out his cell phone and shows Jenny and Lucy. “See? Already 6,000 tweeters are already following.”
The thought relying on Twitter instead of Facebook for social interaction saddens Jenny. She walks away from Albert and Lucy who stay glued to the phone, tweeting their latest thoughts on the Facebook Apocalypse. Browsing the room, she sees the teenage couple who thirty minutes earlier were breaking up, are now kissing and smiling. The girl who was hurdled in a corner crying is now joking and laughing with others. Once chaotic, the Starbucks is starting to feel calm and peaceful. Loneliness overcomes Jenny, making her ache for Facebook even more. Without reading what her friends are doing at this moment or looking through pictures of their recent vacations, Jenny feels empty and alone. Besides having mutual friends, Jenny and Lucy have nothing in common. Jenny needs another Facebook friend with her here. Without one of them, she has no one. Leaning her head against the edge of the main door, she notices a boy running down the street, aimed right for the Starbucks. At first she’s not sure if he’s in danger or hurt but as he gets closer she sees that he’s smiling, laughing even. He runs past Jenny and into the Starbucks.
“Facebook is up again!” he yells into the crowded room. Everyone claps and cries out with joy. Some log on with their cell phones while others use laptops.
“It’s working!” a lady confirms.
Jenny takes a deep breath and exits the Starbucks. Holding her phone she looks down at the screen and logs on to Facebook. Her homepage immediately appears, listing various friends and status updates that were just posted. Friends are updating by the second, causing Jenny’s homepage screen to refresh several times. Within the several hours Facebook was shut down, one friend separated from her husband, another friend met a guy at a nearby Starbucks and one friend gave birth to a baby girl. “Thank goodness for Facebook,” Jenny tells herself. A smile appears on her face and she knows it’s going to be all right. Once gloomy, the sky is bright and sunny again. The streets are cleaned of trash and now full of cars and buses. Stores and businesses have re-opened and life is back to normal. It’s a good feeling Jenny thinks to herself, to not be alone anymore.
Written by Amanda Stewart