WhatsApp outage on October 4 sparks surge in uptake of age-old communications technologies

WARNING: The following story is satirical. Read at your own risk!

At noon on October 4, after he caged up the fiftieth carrier pigeon he had sold that day and handed it over to its new owner, Juan Pájaro García shut the door of his store and put up the CLOSED sign. He contemplated the eerie silence, and the notable absence of the strong odor of bird shit. 

“It’s been ages since I sold a bird,” said Pájaro, who, along with his wife Paloma, runs Pájaro Pajarera, a Mexico City aviary specialising in carrier pigeons. “Today I'm all out.”

Around the same time, other business owners in various locations across the world were noticing a surge in sales of empty tin cans and balls of twine and yarn. Musical instrument stores in West African cities such as Banjul, capital of The Gambia, were having trouble fulfilling the demand for tamas, the hourglass-shaped percussion instruments known to ignorant westerners as “talking drums.” And CB radio enthusiast Ron W. suddenly started receiving calls and visits from friends who had avoided him for years.

Internet users who entered the word “smoke” into Google and DuckDuckGo were also discovering that the first search phrase to come up was “how do I send smoke signals.” Another popular phrase showing up in search was “can I train an owl to carry messages like in Harry Potter.”

The sudden interest in age-old methods of communication was sparked by the breakdown of Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp, which sent users across the world into a tailspin as they found themselves unable to send instant messages to friends, colleagues, family members, groups of old high school classmates, and unsuspecting people who have no idea how they got added to weird chat groups. 

“I have a long queue of fake videos and doctored photos I need to get out to people’s aunts and grandmas TODAY,” said one irate conspiracy theorist who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I’m suing Facebook.” 

 Also threatening to litigate was Karen D., whom the outage prevented from reporting a suspicious individual walking along her street in his school uniform on her neighborhood group chat. 

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