New York - In the early hours of Monday, December 23, my smartphone began to have an orgasm. Urgent texts were pouring in from around the globe, causing my instrument to gurgle and vibrate with barely controlled ardour.
“You've been hacked.” “Change ur password.” “Are u for reals stuck in the Philippines with no $$?”
Despite my bleary-eyed and comatose state, I had no problem grasping the situation. Clearly one of those annoying send-cash-now emails had been sent from my account to my entire address book. I was not unduly alarmed. Having repeatedly been on the receiving end of this genre of scam-spam, I was able to remain sanguine. It seemed inevitable that one day I might actually get hacked, and become the disseminator. That day had obviously come. I liken it to getting a colonoscopy. There's no point in getting your knickers in a twist; it happens to everyone eventually. With that in mind I sighed philosophically, turned off my phone, and collapsed back into bed, little knowing the freaky scene that was about to unfold.
Several hours later, while hoisting spoonfuls of certified, sustainable, locally-sourced organic granola into my mouth, I remembered the nocturnal eruption. I reached for my phone and hit the on button. My instrument began to glow and jiggle in an increasingly agitated fashion. Further inspection revealed that all my inboxes were jammed with alarmed responses to the hacker missive. These communications proved far more shocking than the original. Why? Because a significant number of my nearest and dearest seemed to think that the stranded-sans-cash scenario might actually have occurred, and, horror of horrors, that the importuning email was actually penned by yours truly.
Given that missive's lousy English, the notion that I might have typed the email myself was nothing short of insulting. Is my writing really that awful? OK, so I'm not Ernest Hemingway, but I'm not Barbara Cartland either. Even I could have improved on the following:
“we misplaced our wallet and cell phone on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had.
In addition to the syntactical and grammatical faux pas, the dull tone of the prose was also dissonant with my signature style, or so I would like to think. The histrionics and hyperbole that I am at pains to inject into all my scribblings were stunningly absent. Maybe I am deluding myself, but I feel I would be constitutionally incapable of birthing the following sentence: “Now, our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.”
My version would have read as follows: “Now hang onto your toupees because you are not going to believe how this turgid saga is about to get totally 'Homeland' on your butts! Some tight-lipped queen on the front desk has zipped our passports into his fanny pack and is holding them hostage till we cough up the requisite shekels. Color me puce!”
In addition to the grammar and the tone, the note of impulsiveness pervading the scam also seemed like a red flag for fraudulence. It was bewildering to me that any of my pals ever thought Jonny and I - two of the most controlling and anal-retentive alter kockers on the planet - might be capable of the kind of groovy spontaneity implied in the email: “I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we had to be in Philippines for Tour.” What kind of tour? Support act for Lynyrd Skynyrd?
After much hectoring from technologically minded pals, I agreed to change my password. This complicated palaver blighted an entire day of my vacation. I cannot really blame this on the hackers. The truth is that I am unable to keep pace with advancing technology. I simply cannot shake the idea that a telephone is something black and Bakelite that sits on a shelf and is never moved and jangles, at most, a couple of times a week.
The tech challenges cast a greige pall over the day. On Christmas Eve, suddenly and magically, the melancholy mists evaporated. No, not because I was overcome with holiday cheer. I am referring to that little picker upper known as publicity. New York mag's The Cut picked up my hacking saga and ran a picture of me. My Philippine debacle also received a perky mention on Page Six.
People say time is a great healer. I personally would give the award to publicity. It was a mere 24 hours since the whole hacktastic event had gone down, and I, with my two media hits, felt relaxed and fabulous. By the time Xmas day rolled around I was being deluged with emails from well-wishers who had become aware of this saga thanks to my media micro-blitz. Come Christmas morn I felt like Bob Cratchit after Scrooge sent over that well-fed turkey.
God bless us, every one. Even the hackers.
Washington Post- Bloomberg