Man survives day without Facebook

When Billy Waverly woke up at his East End home last Thursday, he was expecting a normal day.

Then he picked up his iPad and tried to log on to Facebook, as he does first thing each morning. His Internet service was down.

“I was annoyed, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time,” he said. “My Internet goes out sometimes, but it usually comes back in a few minutes.”

He had no way of knowing that he was about to endure what he would come to consider “the longest day” of his life.

Throughout last Thursday, a series of unfortunate coincidences kept Mr. Waverly from logging on to Facebook even once, leaving him out of touch with friends, family members and worse — the latest memes.

“I’m still not sure how I survived,” he said Monday after an intensive weekend catching up on the social network. “I just prayed and did the best I could and somehow managed to muddle through.”

‘Marx Brothers movie’

Mr. Andrews described the chain of events that led to his Facebook-free day as “like something out of a Marx Brothers movie.”

After his iPad failed to log on, he reached for his iPhone instead. But it slipped through his fingers and dropped to the floor. The screen shattered.

“I could still make calls, but I couldn’t see the web browser,” he said. “I cussed at that point, but I still had no idea the struggles I was about to face.”

As he ate breakfast and prepared for work, he continued to check his iPad connection without success.

He also called his Internet service provider repeatedly, only to learn that it would take time to rectify the Internet issue.

At that point, he said, he started to feel increasingly uncomfortable.

“I was very nervous,” he said, “but the worst was when I had to tell the kids that they would have to go off to school without checking Facebook. They tried to be brave, but I could see the tears welling up in their eyes.”

Keeping the faith

Nonetheless, the electrical engineer didn’t lose hope.

“I always check Facebook several times a day at work,” he said. “So I decided to go in early and catch up when I arrived.”

On the way, he was a nervous wreck.

“As I drove to town, I almost had three wrecks. I couldn’t stop wondering what my Facebook friends had posted during the night. And what about all my crops on Farmville: Were they dying? Flourishing? I had no way of knowing. I was desperate for a quick game of Angry Birds.”

When he arrived at his office, his hands were shaking. But as he rushed to his desk, his supervisor waylaid him.

“He needed me in the field urgently,” Mr. Waverly said. “I explained my predicament and pleaded with him not to make me go. He understood — he spends most of his time on Facebook too, of course — but he said he didn’t have a choice: A customer had called and customers always come first.”

The job should have been completed in an hour, giving Mr. Waverly ample time to return to his desk and log on to Facebook. But it proved a difficult task — and it was followed by several more.

“Throughout the day, my boss just kept calling me and giving me more work to do on the road,” he said. “I don’t blame him — he was just doing his job, and he has since apologised — but I would hope all employers will be more sensitive to this sort of thing in the future.”

Because of the workload, Mr. Waverly never got the chance to return to his office and check Facebook.

“I was desperate,” he said. “I wasn’t in my right mind: At one point, I was seriously considering breaking in to someone’s house and logging on to their computer.”

Finally, 5 p.m. came, and he rushed home, only to find that his Internet connection was still on the fritz.

“By then I couldn’t eat or sleep,” he said. “I checked the connection every few seconds until the Internet came back at 3:42 a.m. I can’t tell you the relief I experienced then.”

Because he had missed so many important messages and memes, he had to take the rest of the week off from work to get up to date.

“I found out that it’s almost impossible to backtrack so far on Facebook: You really need to keep up with it on a real-time basis,” he said Monday. “Everything turned out okay in the end: Farmville was just as I had left it and the Angry Birds were still angry. Eventually, I even expect to catch up on everything George Takei posted while I was offline.”

Still, he said, he is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he may never be able to read everything that each of his hundreds of Facebook friends posted last Thursday.

“This realisation has been very painful, but the Facebook community has been extremely supportive,” he said.

DDM action

Support has come from other sectors as well. After learning of Mr. Waverly’s close call, the Department of Disaster Management launched an information campaign to prevent other residents from suffering a similar calamity.

“Mr. Waverly’s case should serve as a lesson to everyone,” a DDM statement said. “Facebook is not always as close as you might think.”

Because of the risks in a territory where the Internet service is often patchy, the department is advising residents to have three or four backup Internet sources handy at all times.

“A phone, an iPad and two computers should be a bare minimum,” according to the statement. “Preparedness is crucial. Facebooklessness is a situation that can escalate very quickly.”

Businesses are also asked to follow the example of Mr. Waverly’s employer, who is currently reviewing the company’s “customer first” policy in light of Mr. Waverly’s struggles at work.

“Last Thursday was an absolute nightmare,” Mr. Waverly said, “but if some good can come of it, it will all be worth it.”