Today my e‑mail account was hacked. I shouldn’t be surprised—after all, it happens all the time to everyone else—but this was the first time it happened to me.

I opened my Yahoo account to greet hundreds of undeliverable messages. Along with them were dozens of contacts, many of whom I haven’t spoken to in years, responding with the question whether I had actually sent the e‑mail or if I was hacked. And then came the fear of realizing how many people actually received my fraudulent, and possibly virus-filled, e‑mail. There were the professors my husband had done his doctorate with, there were business contacts, my kid’s teachers, doctors, and of course friends and family. Basically, everyone and anyone with whom I have ever corresponded received this e‑mail.

Everyone and anyone with whom I have ever corresponded received this e‑mailAt this very moment, I can no longer access my account. I have tried sending new e‑mails, to be told there is an error. I have tried changing my password, but cannot. So I have diligently copied and pasted e‑mails into my work e‑mail, to warn people not to click on the link that “I” sent them. I think I am writing this article right now because the thought of losing access to my e‑mail, or the upcoming work I will have to fix the existing problem, is a tad too overwhelming for me to even deal with.

I just looked at my inbox, where there are over 8,000 e‑mails. Yes, I know, a serious cleaning of my inbox would be a good idea at this time. And while I have never really thought about the importance of my e‑mail, in many ways it is like a diary of the last number of years of my life. While I have never done it, I imagine if I were to read through e‑mail exchanges from five years ago I would laugh, cry, be moved and be shocked by some of the things I said, felt and did.

In thinking about it, no doubt I have e‑mails sitting there from those who are no longer with us. I have lost some close friends in the last few years, and while I have yet to search, I imagine our exchanges are still sitting there, still in that inbox.

What is funny, though, is how I keep getting e‑mail now from those I haven’t spoken to in a while, and probably wouldn’t speak to again for some time. Yet when they saw an e‑mail from me, they took the time to respond, warn me that my account was hacked and ask how I was doing. Amazingly, this huge inconvenience has put me back in touch with some people that I probably would not have written to on my own, but am so happy to be hearing from.

While I have never really thought about the importance of my e‑mail, in many ways it is like a diary of the last number of years of my lifeMaybe that is why this happened after all. Maybe, more than a thorough cleaning of my inbox and deleting old e‑mails, it is a reminder to every once in a while look back, see who could use a friendly “Hello, how are you?” There are all those people I have been meaning to get in touch with. And, funny enough, I just did. In one fell swoop I contacted everyone I would love to say hi to again (okay, and probably hundreds that I really didn’t need to say hello to also . . . ), but there is still something redeemable about the situation!

And guess what? Just now I checked once again (yes, this is consuming my day). And there was that e‑mail I always hope for. Someone wants to book me for a speaking engagement! But what makes this particularly enjoyable . . . the message that came with it. “Hi, I realize that this e‑mail is probably spam, but glad I received it, because it reminded me how we have wanted to book a date for you to come and speak. Please be in touch . . .”

Ha . . . so back at you hackers out there, who tried to ruin my e‑mail and day. You haven’t won. If anything, thanks to you I just got a speaking gig. And the chance to reconnect with some old friends. And even an article. So I guess I owe you a thank you, dear hackers. And let me wish you refuah shleimah (wishes for a speedy recovery) as well. Really, have you nothing better to do with your time? Here’s a suggestion: try taking those brains and ability that you clearly have, and do something positive (no, not unintentionally positive, but with the goal of being productive). You might just find that doing the right thing is a lot more fulfilling than the wrong thing. Just a suggestion from the one you hacked . . .

P.S.: In the end I was able to change my password, and everything has been running smoothly since. And I have been continuing to get e‑mail messages from long-lost friends who were so very happy to have heard from me!