What if it all breaks down?
2 min read

What if it all breaks down?

What if it all breaks down?

I found a note squirrelled away from October last year. I've described before my fondness for leaving memories dotted around the place, objects in pockets or wallets which act as little anchors in time.

This particular one was a few lines scribbled on a notepad, one I was reminded of whilst reading 'The Way of the World' last night, a diary of a writer and an artist travelling from Serbia to Afghanistan in the 1950s.

I wrote the note last year during a Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp outage. A day the whole world suddenly wasn't sure what to do with their phones. Here's what I wrote:

"I'm spending the evening doing some work, while also not doing some work by looking at Twitter. Suddenly Twitter stopped working. There's a lot of chat today about Facebook, Insta and WhatsApp being down. Well, I thought, they'll work it out. But when Twitter looked like it might go down as well I thought: "Oh wow, now then..."'

It was late in the evening and I began to think, perhaps even fantasise, about what would happen if the world woke up to no Facebook and Twitter. What would my job and the job of so many people be like, I wondered?

Would we suddenly have to just focus on getting stories into the news again?

Would we be toying with the idea of paying big money for TV adverts again?

Would we start sending mail to people's homes to get noticed?

It was quite exciting to imagine how things would change. So many jobs would suddenly be cut loose from the content grind. Basically the 90s I suppose.

A beautiful passage in 'The Way of the World' - a book I'm enjoying immensely - brought this home to me.

If things broke down, we'd all get over the shock of losing some apps and start rebuilding together in magnificent chaos, like we always have done.

I'll stop here and leave this with you.

"..[T]en years ago perhaps – the floods had carried away the bridge over the Qizil Uzan. There was no way of getting across, but as the waters might subside from one day to the next, buses and trucks kept arriving from east and west, and because the banks had been loosened by the rain, many of them had been bogged down at the bridgeheads. I had too. We settled in. The banks were already covered with caravans and herds. Then a tribe of Karachi on their way south set up their little forges and began to do odd jobs for the truck-drivers, who obviously could not simply jettison their loads. Drivers who were self-employed soon began to sell things on the spot, bartering goods for vegetables from the peasants round about. At the end of the week, there was a village at each end of the bridge, with tents, thousands of animals bleating, mooing and lowing, and campfires, poultry, and a few shelters made out of branches and planks to serve as tea-houses. Families rented a place under the canvas of empty trucks, there were tremendous backgammon games, a Dervish or two exorcising the sick – not to mention all the beggars and whores who had rushed in to take advantage of the windfall. Magnificent chaos! And green grass was beginning to shoot up. Only a mosque was missing. What a life!"

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