Ordinarily, it is Turkey Panic that afflicts me at this time of year, but it was Cyber Panic that got me this Thanksgiving.
A couple of weeks ago I needed help with a new Outlook program and dialed “Outlook help” into Google. The gentleman who wormed his way into my computer’s innards said he was from Microsoft but he wasn’t, he was a scam (If in doubt, Google his telephone number to see if it is a fake).
Several weeks later, every single person on my email list got a letter of “sad news” from me saying I was stranded penniless in the Philippines, having had my wallet stolen. Would they please send $1500, I asked them pathetically. Most of my contacts, fortunately, recognized that the email was fraudulent.
So much of my life is spent on my computer, with its blessings of social companionship, professional accomplishment and political networking, that when it is hacked or virus-infected my life feels hacked or infected too. Are people like me unhealthily addicted to our computers/I Pads/cell phones, and is that why that withdrawal is so exquisitely painful?
I don’t see it that way at all; I take my devices as intellectual, social and sometimes even spiritual good things (as when a hymn or a deep insight or a timely prayer comes my way on Facebook). It is their up side in my cyber-life that makes my hair stand on end and my nerves jangle and spark like wires sprung from their sprockets when my devices go down.
I am blessed with a tech savvy maven/manger (my daughter Lorien) to talk me through my panics (her mantra is “there is no computer problem that can’t be solved eventually”). She talked me through the process of resurrecting my cyber life: here’s a helpful article she sent about what to do if you are hacked.
Under the heading of it’s an ill wind that blows no good, many friends phoned me to make sure I was o.k. I have used my email server for eighteen years, so there were reunions and catch ups and even the miraculous resurfacing of two workmen who went awol yonks ago; bless their souls, they were not only worried enough to check me out but also agreed to come over and finish their jobs.
Life’s like that, isn’t it? Or, as Gilbert and Sullivan put it:
Set aside the dull enigma,
We shall guess it all too soon;
Failure brings no kind of stigma –
Dance we to another tune!
Life’s a pudding full of plums,
Care’s a canker that benumbs.