It happened just like this:
I woke up yesterday morning at 6:30 am. Shook around in my bed to the sounds of the alarm clock. Grabbed my phone. Checked my email. Didn’t see anything urgent so I hit the Instagram button.
I was logged out. I typed in my username. A sign popped up that said:
This username does not exist.
That must be a mistake.
I typed in my username again.
The same message hit my eyeballs.
Instagram asked me if I’d like to register a new account.
“No… No…No… I want my old account! What the heck happened?”
I texted my boyfriend:
He was awake. I felt my heart throbbing, my head throbbing, my eyeballs throbbing.
He searched and somehow found that my Instagram was not deleted. It was stolen. Somehow, someone, found my password, logged into my account, changed the username, the email associated with it, and stole everything – my 12,000 loyal followers, my 2,000 photos, my online life.
I never thought I would be so gut-achingly hurt over someone stealing the contents of my social media profile and erasing it all. But then again, I never imagined something like this could happen. I’ve always had this love-ughh relationship with social media. I use it because It’s part of my brand. I like it because I’m able to engage with strangers who turn into friends. I ugghh it because it is addicting, controlling, and often times not a true indication of what’s really happening in my life.
I’ve had days where I’m defeated, heart-broken, a dry-clean only kind of mess, but nobody would know because on that day, I posted a heavily-filtered photo of myself taken three months ago by a professional photographer with a $3,000 camera and a $500 camera flash.
I’ve had people tell me that my life looks so glamorous, so fun, so exciting. And all I desperately want to show them is how most of my life is spent behind computer screens, writing for hours on end to get a book published, strategizing how to not give-up when a nasty rejection falls into my lap, and emailing back and forth with reporters, trying to convince them to cover my story.
There I was, yesterday, watching the person who stole my account delete all of my photos, one by one by one, and while I felt my heart grow heavy, I also, sort of, felt okay about it. So what? My photos would be forever gone. It wasn’t like I remembered they existed after I posted them. Half of them were meaningless, put up only to remind my followers that I was alive and seemingly “virtually” well. The other half were photos with captions from my heart, and those I will miss greatly, but not greatly enough to feel forever paralyzed or upset about the whole situation.
My book is coming out in just a few days – I’m overwhelmed just by that. And now – this. This happens. But I’m old enough to know that life gets the most unfair in the moments we desperately wish it wouldn’t.
I cried a lot yesterday, finally finding myself crying so hard that I fell asleep for a few minutes. That happens sometimes. We get so caught up in our emotions that we make ourselves pass out like a newborn baby.
But then I woke up. Looked into the eyes of my boyfriend (who deserves some kind of prize for dealing with this situation & for dealing with me) and said, “That’s it. I’m done feeling sorry for myself. I’m going to do something about this.”
Social media rules our lives. We live to post and we post so that people have this impression of how we live.
But it’s so heavily filtered and time consuming. I spent years building my Instagram only to wake up one morning and have it all erased. Stolen. Deleted.
Life is never fair. But I am a strong believer that the world shakes you at a very specific time for a very specific reason and perhaps right now that is so I can be honest with you about who I really am and what my life is really like.
So – stay tuned. I am starting over. From scratch.
Ps. After my boyfriend, my friend Jess, my book team over at Atria, – emailed Instagram and reported what happened, they finally responded. They were able to give me my account back – but all the photos were deleted (except for the very first photo I posted back in 2011. I left that one up). I have decided to only post photos with purpose and only post the truth of what was really going on IRL when that photo was taken. No more self promotion. No more posting just because.)