Tuesday, December 10, 2013
SLICE OF LIFE
I'm contemplating a change.
A big change.
I'm thinking about shutting down my AOL account. Which I have had for almost 20 years.
It all started last January. I was at work one morning, minding my own business. At lunch time, I checked my phone, which I keep locked in a file cabinet in my office. I'm not a big phone/text person and I generally don't get that many messages-- usually not more than one or two. I check my phone a couple of times a day, just to make sure my sons haven't called.
That day, there were fifteen messages. My first thought was that something had happened to one of the boys. I soon, discovered, however, that people thought something had happened to me.
My email, it seems, had been hacked. Everyone from family members to close friends to distant business relationships had gotten an email saying that I was in the Philippines, with no cell phone or wallet. I needed them to contribute so that I could get home.
Evidently, given the response, the email was reasonably convincing. Several colleagues left messages on my phone to make sure I was at work that day. One of my son's mentors even called the consulate in the Philippines to find out if I was sitting in the waiting room there.
It took several days to straighten out the mess. I changed my password, returned all the messages, and sent emails saying that I was not in the Philippines. Life gradually returned to normal.
But now it's happened again. Except this time, people think I am in the Ukraine. (Where I actually might like to be, given that we have had almost a week of subzero weather, and are just now inching back into the mid twenties). And this time, it's been much more complicated. As soon as I knew my email had been hacked, I changed my password, expecting that life would then return to some degree of normalcy, just like the last time.
Except it hasn't. For whatever reason, AOL has locked my account and no one can send me emails. I have tried every help technique I can think of to get it unlocked. I've sent two emails to AOL. Supposedly, according to their website, they respond within 24 hours, but it's been 72, and I still haven't heard anything. Yesterday, I asked the technology teacher at school. He told me that unless I have a paid AOL subscription, I probably won't be able to access an actual person for help. That's a problem, given that I have had a free subscription for years. I actually don't think I knew there was any other kind.
And so I am contemplating, seriously, moving over to gmail.
It's probably not that big a deal.
I've actually had a gmail account for a several years. One of my professional committees wanted everyone to have gmail, so I opened an account three or four years ago. Last summer, my school district encouraged everyone to get gmail accounts, so I actually have two- one personal and one professional. My AOL account still gets most of my personal email, but it also gets a ton of junk mail, probably up to fifty advertisement type emails a day. It seems like I might want to give up wading through the ads to get to prayer requests or invitations from book club.
I'm having a hard time, however, actually pulling the trigger.
I think I'm having a hard time for two reasons.
First, I'm worried about losing touch with people. For almost twenty years, everyone from high school friends to professional colleagues to the pest control guy have contacted me at the same AOL account. If I don't have that account, how will people find me? I can still get into my AOL account, so I guess I could hunt down people's addresses and send out a mass email, saying I'm changing, but that seems like a pretty overwhelming task, and I'm not sure I'm up to it, at this point in my life.
Second, I think I have a little sentimental attachment. I started using AOL in the early 1990's. I was living in New Hampshire, working on my doctoral degree. I had a dial up modem that I plugged into the phone line and then into my computer. It took several minutes for the computer to actually connect, and when I was online, people who tried to call would get a busy signal. In those lonely days of writing a dissertation, email was my connection to the outside world.
I've had AOL ever since. It's been a constant through my move back to Colorado, adopting the boys, my CCIRA presidency, at least four different addresses. And as weird as it is, I can't imagine not having that account.
I talked to several people yesterday. All of the young teachers at school, and a younger friend at a meeting, assured me that gmail is way more hip and with-it, and that pretty much everyone uses it. They promised me I would get used to the format (which I actually don't like much at all) in no time.
And so I'm contemplating a change.
I guess (gulp) from this day forward, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.