It started out as a cool fall morning, with the promise of sunshine, (well, at 5 AM it was still dark) and also the promise of a nice day to be spent enjoying the fall colors, lunch with friends, and some light shopping.
I turned on the computer, made coffee, and then carried my coffee cup to the sunroom, where my laptop resides.
I am still on dial up, believe it or not, but not for long. Finally, high speed Internet has become available in the boonies, and I am to have it very soon. But I digress. I sat down by my laptop and clicked on "connect" and it made all the usual sounds as it dialed in, and finally said "you are now connected to so and so net." But it wasn't so and so net that appeared in the dial up box, it was something sinister. A pitch black page showing two hands holding up a severed human head! That was followed by a scary, threatening message written in large red letters, which were dripping blood! Pictures of some famous terrorists were also included, and more threatening words about changing "your" ways or facing the consequences.
I sat there dumbfounded, thinking that the sinister, threatening message was directed at me. I was scared. I was stunned.
I disconnected and dialed my ISP's number. But I could only get the recording saying tech support was serving other customers, and I should leave my name, number and message and they would get back to me. I left three messages in the next couple of hours, while the sinister message was still there, every time I dialed in again, frightening me even more every time I saw it.
Well, I finally gave up calling my ISP and got ready to drive to town to meet my friends. The 20 minute drive is always pleasant, and I never tire of the hilly, wooded scenery along the way. But today, I didn't see the hills with the trees of brightly colored leaves, I only saw the image of the two hands holding up a severed human head. I didn't turn on my favorite radio station. I didn't wave to the occasional car that was driving past the other way. My mood had turned as dark as that page with the sinister message.
I didn't want to ruin a fun lunch by discussing what had transpired, but I did finally mention it. "I hear so many bad things about computers, I'm glad I don't have one," someone said. "Call the law," someone else suggested. "I'd be scared stiff, if I saw it on my computer," etc.
The mood was not good, and lunch was not fun like usually.
When I got home, my caller ID showed three messages from my ISP. I called them back right away.
"It was hackers that got in here. Everyone had the same message. It wasn't meant strictly for you," Michael, the tech guy, reassured me, "And we have reported it and removed it. " I was relieved that
I wasn't the target. Yet, I was the target. We all were. Sinister scare tactics had penetrated even our peaceful, rural area. But we can't allow sinister messages to frighten us, can we? We will not allow it. There is still much beauty in the world, and good caring people are everywhere. And tomorrow, I'll be outside with my camera, taking pictures of some of that beauty.