I'm sorry, Jeremy Schneider, but I cannot be your Facebook friend. I wish I could, but my account was hacked over Memorial Day weekend, and I haven't been able to regain control of it since. And trust me, I've tried.
The day started with a frantic call from my cousin (and Facebook friend) who was in the middle of an I.M. conversation with "me" at that very moment. "I" was hysterics, after having been robbed while traveling in London. Was it true? Was I okay? No, I was at the beach and yes, I was okay. But then again, when your identity's stolen you're not quite okay. You're immediately thrust into a state of paranoid damage control, filling out case reports and changing passwords, fully certain that your hacker's in a bunker somewhere, laughing as they jot down every new password you invent.
My hopes were raised when I found a form on Facebook addressing the exact brand of hacking my account had fallen victim to. But before long I reached a Kafkaesque impasse: the hacker changed the email account associated with my account to one I did not create. And even though Facebook seems to know that this is a possibility, they offer no solution to the problem.
The day it happened, I combed the site for a customer service phone number and was shocked to learn it did not exist. No customer service number? Really? I actually hate talking to people on the phone, but for a multi-billion dollar corporation not to have customer service hotline is just wrong.
It's fashionable to be cranky about Facebook. But since it took off, I've always taken the nerdier position at dinner parties of Facebook cheerleader, defending it against my Luddite friends who refuse to join, and Facebook members who kvetch about everything from its ever-changing privacy policies to the constant barrage of inane status updates and photos of people's kids. Sure, it can be annoying, but it's also a powerful and positive tool.
When I needed a computer consultant, I posted it in my status update and was able to find a terrific IT guy who makes house-calls. I felt safe being alone with him, because he was a friend of a friend. When I put a short film of mine on YouTube, I was able to post the link on my Facebook page and as a result, 50,000 people saw it.
But mostly, I'm not ashamed to admit that I love reconnecting with people like you, Jeremy Schneider, who I haven't seen since I left our elementary school after fifth grade. I'll always associate you with the day John Lennon was shot, because you were crying and I'd only the fuzziest notion of who John Lennon was. To me, you're still that speedy ten year-old with curly red hair, who always brought yogurt for lunch. And I would've loved to see how the grown-up you turned out, what your probable kids look like, where you last went on vacation. Knowing these small details about people I was once acquainted with is somehow comforting, especially as I grow older and see how quickly it all goes by.
I miss my stupid Facebook account.
Some people have said I should just start a new account, and distinguish it from my old one with my middle initial. I know I could do that, but the fact that my old one sits there, still active and accessible to someone other than me is just creepy. And the fact that there's not a single human being I can talk to at Facebook to just straighten it all out is infuriating. Could I ever trust it again?
I can't help but imagine that one of my 600 or so Facebook friends would know a real, live person at Facebook who could come to my rescue. But since I'm no longer able to ask them, Jeremy Schneider, do you?