“Sorry, an error has occurred.” “Twitter is over capacity.” “We’re incredibly sorry for the inconvenience.” Frustrations so prevalent as to have become clichés. Memes, even! (You did see that animated gif of the angry panda bears, right?) And yet I’m going to say something crazy here: I’m a big fan!
I mean that only in the abstract, of course, much in the same way as I can say things like “I care about people” all the while hating every last motherfucking one of you, because of course it makes me >:O when some website I’m trying to use starts bugging out, although there are many many miles of distance between being a little >:O and taking to Twitter to be all “OH WHAT THE FUCK, [insert free service you’ve never paid a fucking cent to use ever in your life] ISN’T WORKING, FUCK THEM, I HOPE THEY DIE IN A FUCKING FIRE.”
Because it’s all part of the deal I made: it’s just plain easier for me to let other people handle this shit, and I’m going to let them! But that means I don’t get to moan and groan every time the .1 part of their 99.9% uptime momentarily interferes with my ability to distract myself with cat pics.
But it’s more than that, because look where we are: 30 years ago the PC was the exclusive domain of the hobbyist, the tinkerer, the Geek In Birkenstocks Who Codes BASIC For The Lolz, and yet here we are today and our grandmothers are preordering their new second-gen iPads and signing up for Facebook. And that’s the big issue: design has evolved, and in doing so it made technology less exclusionary and fundamentally more democratic. Which is a good thing!
The obvious parallel here is the automobile: the Model T was impossibly difficult to use and maintain, whereas nowadays anyone can jump in a Prius and be off to school or the mall or whatever it is that people do with cars when they don’t live in cities with good subway systems, because by removing the barriers to entry and by eliminating the need that car ownership required an exhaustive knowledge of the ins-and-outs of internal combustion personal travel became democratized and the sort of thing everyone could enjoy. Like blogs!
And yes, sometimes that has its downsides. Sometimes the car breaks down! And you don’t have the first fucking clue what the problem is because you didn’t have to learn anything about your car in order to be able to use it—and this is all part of the deal you made! You implicitly agreed to a certain amount of ignorance of your automobile in exchange for your automobile being easier to use, which leaves you powerless during those moments when your car is, uh, “over capacity” (but probably not “incredibly sorry for the inconvenience” because—duh—it’s a fucking car).
So what do you do? You fucking deal. You take it to a mechanic. You get it fixed. And you usually pay a lot of money in the process! To someone who’s probably pulling a normal eight or ten hour day and doesn’t actually give a shit about your car that he doesn’t even know is broken and certainly isn’t freaking out at 2AM after his iPhone vibrates off the bedside table because his master database just went down.
So maybe you should remember this the next time Tumblr 500s or your Gmail is offline for an hour, because the alternative is that you host your own blog, which means provisioning your own server and dealing with it yourself when MySQL inevitably crashes (“downtime”!), or running your own procmail/postfix mailserver and running your own redundant onsite/offsite backups and setting up your own MX records and tweaking your own /etc/my.cnf files and so on and so forth (and trust me, there is a lot more so on and so forth where that so on and so forth came from!).
Or: you can just fucking deal! And you can remind yourself that this is the infrequent but occasional downside to letting someone else deal with all of this instead of enrolling yourself for a year at iTunesU just to figure out how to receive an email (at which point you’re just going to have to deal with downtime yourself anyway—go google “the halting problem” if you’re feeling plucky).
Oh and hey, you know what else? It’ll get fixed! And you won’t even have to pay anyone! So, you know, be cool!