Try Not to Take It Personally

>> Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hi. Sorry for the silence in my blog, but yesterday was bend-over and take-it-up-the-ass day. (And I don’t mean in a good way, if you’re into that...)

Oh, that Melissa. She exaggerates.

OK, sure. But this weekend, someone hacked into one of the web sites that I maintain, overwrote the data, and then redirected all visitors to another site. And, well, that left me feeling a little... dirty.

It’s been an interesting learning experience, though. (I’m “Ms. Silver Lining.") Most people’s first reaction was one of gathering the troops, lighting their torches and going after the MF’ers. That’s sweet and all, but when the victim is still bleeding, the first priority is to get her to the hospital, which is what I did yesterday. I tended her wounds and made her safe from other hackers.

Of course, like all victims, she will need time to recover. While my site is safe now, it lives inside a virtual fortress and can’t really grow. Therapy will involve reprogramming the web pages to make them stronger so they will be able to reenter the world with confidence, someday.

This is why I feel “icky”. While this event is relatively minor compared to other violations such as burglary and rape (OK, very minor compared to those), I still bristle with the loss of control; with someone coming in by force and changing something I created.

But I must remember: It’s not personal.

I remember watching an interview with an American female soldier who was captured (during Desert Storm, I think) and held prisoner. During the battle, she’d broken her leg. The enemy tossed her into the back of a truck with other prisoners, and then, back at the encampment, one of the enemy soldiers raped her. (File this under: "So you think you've got problems...")

What I remember most was her reaction. She said with a chuckle (I’m paraphrasing): “I was a mess. I was dirty, I had a broken leg. I was hardly 'feminine'. Yet this guy looks over and decides he’s gonna rape me. I mean, come on. How ridiculous is that?”

Reporter, “Was it especially difficult for you, being a woman and being raped?”

Soldier, “No more than any other soldier who was taken prisoner. Guys were tortured, beaten. It’s just another form of violence.”

Somehow, she managed not to take it personally. She saw it for what it was -- yet another violent act against her. But it’s not always easy to maintain that perspective. I seem to take everything personally. My feelings get hurt if my kids don’t like my outfit, or if someone makes a less than wonderful comment on my blog. My skin is thin.

But my reaction to these offenses are not based in reality. Ultimately, these events are only as meaningful as I make them. The soldier had confidence in herself -- she saw her value outside the violent actions of other people. She defined her self-worth -- not other people. She’s a true a role model.

So, to honor her bravery, I will not to take it personally, either. I am simply another victim of Internet vulnerability, and logically I have to take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again. While it’s a huge pain in the ass, it’s nothing personal.

As the site and I heal together, I realize I have much to be grateful for. A coworker of mine immediately alerted me to the problem and came into work on a Saturday just to help me out. So thanks, Friend.

Several coworkers offered their condolences (and food!) throughout the day while I struggled to get the web site up and running. Thanks, Friends.

In the process of recovery, a friend of a friend took valuable time out of his day to help me. He saved many days of research and trial and error on my part and gave me the confidence I lacked. He basically saved my ass, and in doing so has been elevated to Direct Friend, and not merely Friend of a Friend. Thanks, Friend.

As they say, it could have been worse.

Evil Hackers, I’m guessing you don’t really know what’s it’s like to be surrounded by good, caring, selfless people. You don’t realize that there is more joy in integrity than in deception and acquiring the dirty dollar. Your life is most likely focused on what it lacks, instead of what it contains. You, probably, are not very happy.

But I don’t know you, so try not to take it personally.

Although, maybe you should.

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