Meta disabled my Facebook account. Okay. Meta disabled my Facebook AND Instagram account. I was officially Meta-disabled one minute after receiving an email requesting I secure my account because it “looks like” someone may have accessed my account.
I tried to secure my account.
I changed my password.
I waited for the security code through a text.
I waited with a new and pending disability.
No text. No code.
I’d only waited a minute, because the next email (a minute later) informed me that my account had been suspended. Though, when I went to log in, they did label this a “disability.”
I spent the next few hours digging the rabbit hole research that, as a writer, I normally thrive. I love finding odd and unusual tiny objects, offering some grand reveal or discovery. Like the time I Googled the type of cigarettes my grandfather smoked and then I kept going, because this is what a writer does. My grandfather penned an essay about a cigarette moment as a POW in 1944.
In my grandfather’s published essay, he said, “They took me to a barracks type of building and told me an ambulance would soon be here to take me to a Lazzarette (hospital) where they had very good doctors who would repair my ankle. While I waited for the ambulance, a German in the uniform of a sergeant of the Luftwaffe approached me and offered his hand in friendship. “I am the one who shot your aircraft,” he said in perfect English. “I am sorry for you and your friends, but for you the war is over.” I asked what type of fighter he flew. “Focke-Wulf 190,” he answered. I offered him one of my cigarettes. He accepted and together we smoked and sat in silence for a brief minute. He saluted me and left.”
Yes. Grandpa Tom shared a cigarette with the German pilot who shot his aircraft down over Prerov, Czechoslovakia enroute to Blechhammer on Dec 17th, 1944. I’m curious. I wanted to know the brand of military issued cigarettes in WWII and specifically, the brand my grandfather shared while in captivity.
NOTE: Those interested, between WWII and 1976, soldiers received in their rations, a mini-pack of either three or four Old Gold, Lucky Strike, Camel, or Chesterfields along with waterproof paper matches.
I like to think Grandpa smoked Lucky Strikes.
While in the cigarette rabbit hole, I’d a memory, as is often the case. Early in my military career, and by this I mean the first week of boot-camp at Lakeland AFB, Texas, I pretended to smoke. I pretended because I was great at pretending growing up in childhood abuse. I pretended because I wanted the extra “smoke break” afforded smokers. I also pretended so I could feel “cool” and make friends with the other, cooler recruits.
Here’s what I didn’t smoke.
Virginia Slims—menthol and filtered.
The cigarette burned away in my hand, sometimes scorching my fingers. I’d no clue how to take a drag and, after a few “breaks” the TI called me out. Which proved fine. I couldn’t afford the four bucks a carton (I think this was the commissary price in 1985), an extravagant non-habit to invest. And the smokers knew I was a faker. I’m a terrible actor. I most likely lost potential friends in my fake-week-long-almost-smoking non-habit.
I loved the Re-search and the Re-memories of cigarettes and smoking and my relationship with myself and the world around me. In 1985, I held no identity. In 1985, I tried to fit in.
Sometimes I still do.
I thought I’d find the same joy Re-searching how to Re-enable my now disabled Facebook and IG accounts.
Here’s what I discovered:
- If you look up How to contact Facebook, you will find one of two phone numbers. Both lead to recordings that guide you to log into your account.
- The challenge is, if your account is disabled, you can’t log in without the code you receive via text.
- If your account is disabled, you won’t receive the code.
- You’ll also discover there are a few support emails for Facebook, like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. These took me 17 minutes to locate.
- I emailed.
- If you attempt to log in or contact Instagram, you’ll be redirected, I think they called it “encouraged,” to log into your Facebook account for assistance.
- Return to number one, begin again. And loop.
NOTE: Completely UN-fun rabbit hole.
This couldn’t happen at a more opportune time. I have a book entering the world.
Small shameless plug here.
I plotted a marketing plan for my book involving social media and my newsletter.
I had social media plans.
I had plans.
And, at this juncture, I really had two options:
- Quit – Give Up – Throw in the Towel – and Throw a Tantrum
- Re-Route and Re-Frame
I opted to Re-route and Re-frame because I’ve a neck injury and the last time I threw a tantrum was on January 17th, 2017 after closing simultaneously on two homes and moving my three sons and myself and our two pugs and chiweenie and four chickens and a bearded dragon and a guinea pig in three 26-foot Uhauls during Snowpocalypse, Idaho.
I focused on the chickens.
My friend and handy-dude, Kevin, built—more accurately, rebuilt—their chicken coop in the back yard in two feet of snow. Okay. 15 inches. But you navigate hens and pigs and pugs through snow and I promise you, your memory will file TWO FEET.
I remember throwing my neck out throwing this tantrum. I spent the following week unpacking—and yes, I unpack without sleep until I feel settled—with my right hand numb and that firing nerve-ending pain that nothing, I mean nothing, alleviates.
The chickens survived.
I did too.
Last week, the Facebook Meta Universe felt more challenging. I Re-routed and Re-focused my marketing “campaign” (that’s what I’m calling it) on my newsletter/email list and Twitter. There’s little action and interaction on my Twitter as I mostly re-post from my Instagram. I also share Ilya Kaminsky’s Tweets because he quotes poetry, love, a worthy cause, and I admire his incredible lens and worldview.
See what I mean?
At some point, prior to my new Meta-disability, I noticed the “Share To” button on my Instagram as I re-posted to Twitter (and Facebook). There’s a community called Tumblr.
I opened a Tumblr account.
I lost myself. For a day. Okay, probably three. I fell into the great art on Tumblr, and, this community feels a lovely blend between Instagram and Pinterest. Which reminded me that I have a Pinterest account which has been without attention for six years.
I’ll just leave Pinterest right there.
In the meantime, two days into my disabling social media almost-crisis, one human (thank you, Erin) sent a text, asking if I were okay because she noticed in a group DM on FB that my account was – well – disabled.
If my new disability was more severe, say, heart failure, I would’ve perished. So I did the only thing a normal person who relies on social media (so I thought) does – I sent out a mass email. I wanted to post my Happy Valentine message, and without FB or IG, I felt limited. I wanted to share my Valentine podcast from MING Studio.
Towards the end of my email, I mentioned my current Facebook and Instagram disability.
From this email, ten out of 600 responded with sympathy and an offering to post about my forthcoming book. (Yes. I know how lucky I am).
So here, three days out from my new-distant relationship with two of my social media platforms, I sorted some math. I’m not a fan of math. I’m a writer. But I did the math.
- I’ve about 5,000 close and dear friends on Facebook. People from high school, universities, the military, my Jewish community, family, my writing community, and many others who lovingly tolerate my existence.
- I’ve another almost 3,000 peeps on Instagram, though I’ll assume that most are duplicates from Facebook.
- Another 1300 on Twitter, 3300 on LinkedIn, 250 on Pinterest, and I think five on Tumblr (which I’m most proud).
Let’s narrow this.
Imagine I’ve only 5,000 connections total.
Of 5,000, eleven have checked on me.
This is less than one percent who noticed I no longer existed on two social media platforms.
To be fair, the majority of my close friends rarely use social media and are in touch via in-person coffee, phone calls, texts, and emails. These humans have consistent verification of my alive-ness and rarely comment on my posts, well, because we have our relationship in real time and most of what I post, they’ve already heard me process or whine or luxuriate over. And. They’ve already offered their two cents.
But if less than one percent noticed my absence, I needed to ask myself, “Why post on FB and IG?”
- Certainly not for book marketing or sales.
- Possibly for my ego – relating “likes” and “hearts” to acceptance and belonging. I’ll process this one with my therapist later.
- Potentially to feel a sense of connection to those who live in other time zones, whom I rarely see, but I care about and want to stay in touch and social media is easier than writing letters to 5,000 (or 13,450 if you combine these platforms with my email campaign, without the five on Tumblr and 4,000 contacts in my phone).
NOTE: Yep. 4,000 telephone contacts. I’ve made friends. I circulate through a variety of communities. I connect. I try to keep in touch. I’m not very good at this. Social media has given me a method of outreach.
- Most likely my ego. I’m a driven human, though not a competitive one. Yes. There’s a difference. I like to know I’m moving forward. I like the measurement stick that I’m evolving. I like to know I’m making a difference.
- Maybe not my ego. I do hop on social media for 10 minutes twice a day. The first thing I do is send Happy Birthday messages. In 2014 I struggled. My neck had collapsed. As I Re-habbed, I felt isolated, alone, and with my body uncooperative, I fell into an ocean-deep-depression. I dreaded my birthday that year (and quite a few before). But something happened. I’d received over 300 HAPPY BIRTHDAYS on FB and kept checking throughout the day. I felt seen. I felt remembered. And it mattered. And so, I post a happy birthday message every morning for those I know who have a birthday.
Please NOTE: If you are my Facebook friend and you have not received a happy birthday message from me it’s most likely because my account was disabled. Or I was suffering in my own disability and not capable of reaching out that day. I’m sorry. Happy Beautiful Birth Day! I love you.
- Ego or not, I try to lift others with my posts. I focus on intention – what is this about, what will this offer, how will this help? Much like I approach my writing. I post about funny things in my home, my Newfoundland puppies, my mis-adventures, my blessings. I try not to kvetch. I try to leak some sparkle into the world. I think of technology as an opportunity to bring more good – though I think we’ll soon see with AI and library closures and book banning, there will be less and less sparkle in the world.
- And still, maybe not my ego. Maybe my heritage. My Jewish Pride. Every Friday, I post a Good Shabbos message with a picture of something that represents light.
This post reminds me: Come from a place of Love and Light. I don’t always succeed. I do always try. And maybe my message or image reminds someone else, there is still Love and Light. Maybe when it feels like there is not, we can be that Love and Light for one another.
This brings me back to my disabled account. Stay with me.
And though they said they couldn’t help me, I received a resolve the next day from both FB and IG.
NOTE: For now, my account is “restricted,” though I’m no longer disabled and clearly hacked. I’m trying to understand what this restriction is and means. I can see that the hacker charged $128 for an ad campaign, and yes, my credit card was used for this, and yes, I’ve disputed this at my bank, and yet…yes, I’m restricted.
The rabbit hole always, and I mean always, offers awareness and opportunity to shine.
The situation didn’t end. Whoever hacked both accounts, and yes, the accounts are connected but with different emails and passwords, posted some awful antisemitic images.
My brother said, “Don’t take it personally. Just think of it as someone spray-painting your garage with hateful graffiti.”
I’m not sure I feel better yet.
I realized that there’s this possibility: Perhaps my good-intentioned Good Shabbos messages, meant to bring Light to the world, brought chaos and hate to me.
I wasn’t angry. I was shaken.
I yoga-d, EFT-ed, journaled.
Then I Re-Grouped and Re-Framed and Re-built my accounts to a “friend-only” base and Re-moved my public-viewings.
I never journeyed down a true research rabbit hole with my Meta-disability. I ended up in my inner rabbit hole instead. I sorted my “why” on social media:
- I want to offer good in the world.
- I want to champion others.
- I’ve worked hard to rebuild a career in writing following a sharp turn out of the fitness industry, a place I felt successful.
- Social media offers me space to share my wins too. So yes, I want to champion myself as well.
And I’m wondering if I need this. I’m wondering why I need this.
I’ve never been a bottom-line success measurer.
Instead, I’ve focused on living a significant life. I teach HS teens in the Juvie system. THIS is significant. I’ve raised three incredible young men. My most significant accomplishment.
Now. I’m back on FB and IG.. Now. I’ve a new Tumblr.
And today and still. A statue stands in Troubky, Czechoslovakia, marking the existence of my grandfather’s journey.
And I remember that I come from a lineage of warriors, including a grandfather who shared a cigarette with someone who, labeled as his enemy, became a fellow human in a shattered world. Only four out ten of my grandfather’s crew members had survived the attack.
Here repose American heroes after their last start
Wanderer read and announce to all
We gladly died for you that you live and are free
Don’t forget us.
And perhaps this is what writing and publishing, and social media posts and shares offer – a sort of bronze statue – a singular moment signifying “I existed.”
I did this thing.
I was here.
(If you want, feel free to respond with your social media WHY.)