As a private citizen it’s terrible when your online accounts are hacked and used to perpetrate, well, anything at all. Typically this happens with eMail. Occasionally we suffer our social networking accounts being hacked. It’s embarrassing and scary to have strangers spewing ads or profanity at your coworkers, schoolmates, friends, and family.
Then you have people with public lives, and they often come up against “online unpleasantness” in many forms. It can be discouraging and cause you to withdraw from interacting with the public. To people in that boat–whether you are an author like myself, a pro fisherman, actor, spokesperson, politician, whatever–I say do not give up. In fact, it’s time for you to double down, triple down, and perhaps even quadruple down.
Back in early 2006 my MySpace account was hacked (yes, MySpace was the Facebook of that era…anybody else remember what that was like?) and the following message was sent out to everyone on my friends list as a bulletin:
—————– Bulletin Message —————–
Date: Feb 20, 2006 4:54 AM
This is very serious. I am not joking about this.
Over the years I have written many books, and lets face it 98% were complete crap. The other 2%… well I guess you could say they were ok. Up until now I have had no problem taking money from you fools… but lately my conscious has really got the best of me. I am finished… thats right I am offically retiring from writing books. I am RICH all thanks to you fools. L8TR BITCHES!!!!!!!!! HAHAH!!!!
As you can imagine this did not do much for my reputation. Aside from being riddled with errors, the message inspired ire, concern, and so forth, followed by a drop in my friend count. Attempts to clarify and explain the situation were met with some skepticism and sarcasm–to be expected due to the nature of the internet–but for the most part there was an outpouring of support once people understood what had happened. I bounced back.
Yes, as an individual with a “public” life online there will always be knuckleheads making accusations, users trying to suck you dry, attention-seekers and stalkers, or next-big-things stepping on you in the attempt to reach the next rung on the ladder. But how is that any different from private individuals on the internet, or–more to the point–life offline in the “real” world?
We take the beating. We keep going. We help those willing to accept it, and get by with the strength of our friends. Or followers. Or those added to our circles. Succeeding as an author is a battle of attrition, as is every other aspect of life; I’m not giving up, and I’m heartened by the fact my friends and readers have not given up either.