I always picture the end of the world starting one sunny and apparently quiet morning when people wake up to find out that Google is down. After some initial minutes of confusion, Gmail goes down, followed shortly by Facebook and Twitter. By then, it is too late for any kind of reaction because, when we try to dial for help, we realize there is no cell phone coverage. Not just for T-Mobile customers in New York City, for everyone!

On Tuesday September 1st 2009, sometime in the afternoon, the online community started to realize that Gmail was down. A common reaction in this kind of situation is to feel unsure whether this is happening just to myself or to everyone else and, instinctively, one starts looking around trying to spot another person sitting in front of a computer looking worried. That was my reaction, but there was no one around. In moments of panic one finds the strangest solution to a problem, even if there is an easier one. I could have checked Gmail’s official blog and status, but instead, I checked Twitter. I do not have a Twitter account (yet) because I don’t like it (yet, but I will talk about it some other day); I just wanted to do a simple search: “Gmail down?”. I couldn’t help but wonder how that was possible. Gmail was, indeed, down, but, even stranger, if possible, the number of twits about it increased at an astonishing rate of about 4000 per minute.

I learned two things that day. One, I feel that kind of weird nervousness when a Google service goes down that would turn into real paranoia if minutes later another “major” online service goes down. Two, if the world ends anytime soon, it will be on Twitter before it is even on the news.

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