*** Before you read this post, it is very very important you do not respond to any requests from me on Instagram for help. For that is how this whole tale started…***
Watch what you wish for. It is one of my mantras, but one I never seem to heed. I have been wishing for more time to write, take photography lessons, read, and spend time with my family. I have been wishing not to be sidetracked by the petty distractions of my iPhone, those pings that announce text messages, emails, and, that black hole of a time suck they call Instagram.
I got on Instagram as a way to grow my readership for TEXAZTASTE, and really loved exploring my creative side with beautiful food photography and travel inspiration. I attended a conference called Instacamp in Palm Springs with 150 20-somethings to learn a few tricks—who says an old dog can’t learn a few?? I worked hard to build up my followers, delighting in reaching certain milestones, like 500, then 1,000, and finally 10,000 which would allow me to become “Instagram Certified”. Yes, that is hot stuff right there.
And then, on Tuesday morning, my Instagram account got hacked. In a matter of minutes, I lost complete control of my creative content I had been accumulating since 2013. Nefarious? No doubt, and extremely frustrating. Instagram support has been totally useless. I was told to file a complaint and wait for an email return in one business day detailing my next steps (which obviously has not arrived). I panicked at first, then breathed deeply to will myself out of this situation.
As I manage an Instagram account for a property my sister and I co-own in Texas (@morrisranchschoolhouse should anyone be curious), I was able to direct message the perpetrator. “You are such an asshole for hacking my account, “ I wrote. Within minutes, a reply: “lol. Pay me $500 and you can have it back.” Wanting to offend but maintain a shred of dignity, I typed out, “Screw you.” Then he/she/it blocked me.
Since then, I have been able to see from my children’s accounts what has been going on over at @texaztaste while fielding dozens of texts and calls reminding me, quite painfully I might add, that I have been hacked. Many asked, “Is this for real?” as they attached a screen shot the most recent post on “my” Instagram, a pixilated blown-up shot of me advertising Bitcoin mining in very poor English.
Yes, of course that is real. Overnight I went from a 52-year old freelance photographer and writer for two national publications highlighting Arizona’s food and beverage scene – and when I can convince the kids, a shot of my family – to a peddler of Bitcoin. “Congratulations to me I’m trying my best to reach out to as much people i could reach” reads one post with several photos of a white G Wagon with red leather interior. Part of me can’t help but ask, “Have I done such a shoddy job building my brand that you would think that I have honestly stooped to this level?”
This didn’t start out as a rant, but rather as an explanation for what you hopefully deduced by now was quite simply, fraud. I watch sadly as this nincompoop posts more terrible images of the so-called American dream of making it rich on Bitcoin, and watching my followers take flight for greener pastures of the Instagram world. Will this number count be as fun to watch? I doubt it, but I could make it fun by opening a fancy bottle of wine every time the former IG me loses 1,000 followers.
I got what I wished for, in a way. Now I don’t have to spend 30 minutes to an hour a day creating content for Instagram, but can sit down and hash out a humorous rant about my experience on one of the most popular social media platforms of our day. Who knows? Maybe I will even submit this and get published. This is where I would instinctively end with, “one can only wish”. But I am done wishing, and determined to start doing. xoM