Last Tuesday I stopped being able to receive or send e-mail on what I call my “business” account. I have a gmail account that I use for family and friends – all other e-mail is on my Cox account. Before my Cox account closed down I got an e-mail from Instagram that my account had been hacked. I already knew something was up because even though the picture I had posted when setting up the Instagram account was still there, the name with the account had changed to a jumble of letters that I in no way recognized. And then there was one final Instagram e-mail before my Cox access ceased. This e-mail stated that the hacking was from Russia. I felt slightly overwhelmed. My Facebook account has been hacked three times to the point that I was thinking of giving it up and just using Instagram. Unlike the Cox account which had been completely closed down, Instagram allowed me to receive and to post as long as I used the jumbled-letter “handle” from the hacker.
I tried unsuccessfully to contact Instagram. We had some some fun plans for the next two days and I just let my tech problems ride. But as I continued to get Instagram messages addressed to the bogus name I got more and more annoyed and it felt creepy to me. I assumed the hacker was also seeing my messages. On Thursday I decided to start tackling my technical issues. For the next four days I spoke with different Cox representatives who tried to solve the issue. They were able to determine that someone had accessed my Cox account and as one of the reps said ” they messed with my settings”. Again I felt creepy – and a little bit of “why me”.
My work with the Naomi Project forced me to become comfortable with computer use, with texting, with websites and e-mailing. But this hacking issue became a major source of frustration. Solving it was way beyond my skill level. And after about fifteen hours of dealing with various Cox technicians from their customer service department I found it also appeared to be beyond their skill level. Even after removing the filters that had been placed on my account by the hacker none of the regular technicians could provide a permanent fix for the issue. Their fixes lasted while we were on the phone together and in some cases for up to a half an hour after getting off the phone. I was so frustrated.
And I am not proud of how I handled the frustration – I really got worked up at something that was not a life and death matter – that didn’t deserve the energy and angst that I was according it. In retrospect the whole experience was a good learning for me. On Sunday we went to the 12 o’clock service at Holy Family. This is the church that has become our spiritual home while we are in Florida. This is the Mass where they have a spectacular children’s choir, where there is interactive singing between the choir and the congregation, where the staff and congregation are diverse and very welcoming. In this calming and very spiritual setting I reflected on how worked up I had allowed myself to become over a technical problem – it was not a health issue but I could turn it into one if I continued to allow myself to get so upset. I had not even responded to the pounding music of the waves which was normally such a tonic for me. Previously I thought I had my priorities in order. This episode reminded me that it is very easy to “go off track”.
Monday morning I again called Cox – but this time I asked to be connected to their for a fee technical support. Before I had not wanted to put out the money for specialized assistance feeling that I had not caused the problem so why should I have to pay for its correction. By Wednesday all my technical issues were solved. The whole episode took about fifteen hours of phone time . The paid service took about two of those hours.
Hopefully I will retain my learnings from this hacking experience. It is just stupid to get upset, as I did, over a technical issue. As the country singer Jimmy Dean said, ” I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”