How Facebook gave me my life back

BWUBeth Underwood Books

There are plenty of undeniable truths about life. Humans are creatures of habit. Habits are hard to break. And many habits will never be broken without a monumental reason to do so.

I happen to be intimately acquainted with these truths. In other words, I speak from experience.

Take social media, for example.

For months now, I’ve waxed rhetorically about how the whole world needed to ditch Facebook. From a freedom-loving woman who bleeds red, white, and blue, I was tired of turning a blind eye to censorship.

Yet back to my profile and business pages I’d go.

After all, I had a healthy following on four book pages (including my ever-irreverent Talk Bourbon to Me page.) I was established. People knew where to find me. And they knew that on any given Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday, they’d find my latest whiskey-centric wisdom at precisely 5:03 p.m.

Who was I to take that away from them, am I right?

So I’d continue to slink my way over to Facebook, even calling it out as a necessary evil, yet posting in spite of myself.

Until four days ago when my profile was hacked.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been hacked, but let’s just say it’s not a pretty reality. Especially when said hackers bust into your Messenger app and proceed to send child porn under your name to friends and family. No sirree, Bob. It isn’t pretty at all.

Just ask my son-in-law, who happened to be the first recipient. Sigh.

Unfortunately, I received no notice of the attack until after the fact—until after the point at which Facebook disabled my profile and associated author pages, as well as my accounts on Instagram.

In one fell swoop, my contact with 5,000 or so followers was severed. No way to tell anyone what was happening, and (likely) no way to recover my accounts as Facebook boorishly informed me:

“We have fewer people to review information (because of Covid-19). This means we may not be able to review your account.”

They did, however, ask for my license at some point. You know. To prove I am who I say I am. Oh, the irony, coming from an entity who openly laments the evils voter ID laws.

Hypocritical much? I think so. But I digress.   

I don’t mind telling you, the whole ordeal was superficially akin to mourning a death, as disbelief, anger, sadness, and acceptance marched through my emotions.

Yet among the thoughts that swirled through my head, one thought took root and ultimately prevailed over all the others:

I don’t need Facebook.

I’ve got to tell you, I felt a little like Scarlett O’Hara, shaking her fist in the air and declaring that, God as my witness, I would rebuild my version of Tara—that tomorrow would indeed be another day.

Whatever it takes, right?

What’s more, these thoughts encouraged other like-minded ideas, causing me to second guess the way I’ve done business for a number of years in favor of returning to what makes sense to me. After all, I’ve never been much of a follower of man-made cultural norms.

The final shot of confidence I needed came from longtime friend Joel Kessel, who reminded me of what our friend and mentor Dan Miller is fond of saying: “What does this make possible?”

The answer is a resounding, “plenty!”

In a nutshell, it means an opportunity to return to the platform that’s worked for me before (my website). And it means an opportunity to try a few things I simply hadn’t made time for in the past.

Take LinkedIn, for example. I’ve long thought it to be a platform on which I’d like to forge relationships. To share thoughts on writing and life lessons while learning from others.

Take Twitter as example two, where 280-character thoughts are right up my alley. Because sometimes a 1,000-word post is the last thing I want to do.

It’s an opportunity to focus on my mailing list—to recommit to providing quality content to loyal readers—and an opportunity to do what I most love to do: tell stories.

More than anything, though, it’s an opportunity to call my own shots. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s something Facebook and Instagram had taken away from me, even if subtly.

For that, I suppose a thank-you is in order. Had this perverted child porn hacker not prompted Facebook to disable my accounts, I would still be on there, mindlessly wasting time, effort, and precious energy.

So thanks, Facebook. Thanks for giving me my life back. And for exposing reality just enough to allow the light of endless opportunity to once again shine through.