Young Aussies in Sydney’s CBD were spotted looking lost and confused and even seen talking to each other thanks to the nationwide Optus outage.

More than 10 million customers and 400,000 businesses were impacted after Optus’ mobile services went down at 4am AEDT on Wednesday after its core network suffered a fault.

Customers are slowly being able to access the Optus network now, but most people have spent the majority of the day phoneless.

The result?

Well, suddenly, public transport wasn’t just a sea of people with their heads buried in their alluring phone screens, swiping, scrolling and staring.

Aussies were instead spotted staring off into space, contemplating life and awkwardly cradling their unusable phones while they waited for the outage to end.

It was like the plot of Castaway when Tom Hanks becomes obsessed with that volleyball because he is stranded on a desert island and has nothing else to cling to.

Trade the island for Sydney’s light rail and the ball for an iPhone that is unable to connect to Instagram, and it has a similar vibe.

You could practically smell the desperation in the air, well, that and Lynx Africa.

Today, Sydney’s CBD was filled with young people looking confused – well, once they were located.

In fact, when I asked two millennial women where the Gen Zers were hanging, they looked perplexed before tentatively suggesting the sneaker section at JD Sports. Young people love shoes, right?

Thankfully, they weren’t all huddled, staring at some $180 Nikes until the outage ended. They were strewn across the CBD, all with battle stories to tell.

One young woman explained while she didn’t feel alone without access to her phone, she certainly didn’t feel normal.

“I’m trying to get connected, so I’m going to public places, but yeah, I feel weird,” she revealed.

She was in the middle of Sydney, cradling her phone and trying to locate some reliable Wi-Fi.

The Gen Zer said she hadn’t popped her phone in her tiny handbag because she was just used to carrying it with her. What if she finally sourced the kind of internet connection that could mean she wouldn’t be blocked from her most trusted websites?

Another young person armed with a coffee and still cradling his useless phone explained that when he woke up and realised his phone wasn’t working, there was only one thing to do! Okay, two things to do.

“I messaged my mum on Facebook, so she knows I’m alive, and then I was like, I’ll go shopping,” he explained.

His mate, who could mark himself safe from the Optus outage, nodded his head empathetically to his friend’s tale of survival.

They did agree it might be the perfect day to leave a date sweating.

“You could ignore them all day and then message later and they’d say ‘oh were you hit with the Optus outage’ and you could say, no, ‘I’m with Telstra’.”


One young man in baggy pants explained that, while he wasn’t worried, he did wonder if people were trying to contact him.

He brushed off the suggestion that he might be feeling vulnerable without his iPhone and instead embraced being stoic in the face of adversity.

“I’m annoyed, but I’m fine,” he confirmed, even though he was stuck spending the day wondering if anyone was trying to call him.

But the suffering doesn’t end there. One young woman confessed she’d driven to work in stone-cold silence because her Optus phone wasn’t working.

“I drove to work in silence,” she confessed.

What about turning on the radio?

“Oh, yeah, I could have done that,” she said

The silent driver was seated with a group of friends and said the phone outage had also been incredibly inconvenient for work, but there were some unexpected benefits.

“I get to talk to you guys more now,” she said, gesturing to her co-workers, they nodded in agreement.

Well, during tough times, people have to stick together.

Meanwhile, another Aussie said she felt like she couldn’t do “anything” without her phone, because if you can’t check social media or text, I guess, life has no purpose.

Another described the experience as “annoying” and admitted she’d spent the whole day borrowing people’s phones.

One shared that she’d been hit hard by the outage because it meant she’d have to go the whole day without being able to check her dog’s doggy cam.

This revelation was met with an supportive “aww” from her friend, who understood the severity of the situation.

There’s no doubt that the Optus outage has proved that life offline is challenging.

Read related topics:Sydney

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