Life under a social media blackout

social media blackout in uganda

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While the dignitari were busy jetting in for the swearing-in ceremony of our president, Ugandan netizens were walled outside the digital social sphere by authorities citing security concerns. And, before I could grasp it all, many phone calls were directed my way inquiring about the communications regulator’s directive of having social media shut down. Boy they’d go like Remmie why is my Facebook down?  My WhatsApp isn’t sending messages, my Twitter timeline isn’t updating and so on and so forth. The only viable explanation I could come up with was somewhat speculative but later turned out true that authorities had indeed pulled the plug on social media. Kaput.

Since we all know that the VPN (Virtual Packet Network) warfare is one our security organs can’t win, the strophic rise of VPNs once again kicked in as were the case in the February elections. The few that circumvented the ban threw a few rants while the rest of the social army considered it a lost battle. At least for some, while others didn’t wait to wail. It once again became business as usual but this time around with a missing ingredient, that is Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter. What do you do in case a situation presses you hard? Well, you feel the pain but finally you adapt. How?

I received more calls in a two days time than I do in a week

Conventional phone calls followed me everywhere. Something so unusual since IP based calls have since become the norm, coming second after text catapulted by the likes of Whatsapp and Messenger. In their absence, some turned to calls for rescue.

Telegram usage surged

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There is an exaggeration that has come to define Telegram’s surgence every time there is a whatsapp shutdown. While Whatsapp goes down, Telegram rises up. What would you do after you’ve been cutout anywhere else?  You find alternative means thus many found a safe haven in Telegram. Notifications about my contacts joining Telegram made rounds on my phone. So and so has joined Telegram. This was followed by an increased usage of its services that have since waned after restoration of WTF services but  I hope to see you once again my friends.

I watched TV

It might sound surprising but I rarely watch TV these days. If it’s news, my Facebook timeline is always filled with News and YouTube offers a recap. If it’s entertainment, I have a phone filled with apps just for that and laptop that carries my entertainment catalogue so I rarely find myself in the lounge craving for TV. But this time around, the status quo was challenged since I had to keep up with latest unfolding events, only to find myself tuning to NTV, NBS and a host of international news channels.

People remembered SMS

Who sends SMSes anyway?  Preferably MTN or Airtel with their unsolicited SMS notifying me about their endless promos however much they took their time to inform me about the social blackout. The social blackout however defied odds and this time around my peers sent me SMSs. “Hey Remmie, how are you?  Why is my phone blah blah……. “ they said and other conversations which of course I can’t share here. It surprised me how something too odd to be alive finally found a breath of life. Well be back SMS.

Offline conversations trickled in

Finally a visit to friends and family replaced the Hi  and Heys I normally do over Whatsapp and Facebook just to keep in touch. The easiest way to do this was barred only to find joy and how awesome it is to physically have conversations.

So now that things are back to normal, I hope we keep up with the new found life and realise it can move on without Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter.