PIERRE | We have been together since April 3, 1995. There were some slick patches, sure. But nothing so bad I felt I had to leave.
There is a lot be said for something so reliable, so constant, so always there.
That is, until a week ago.
I started getting word from others. The trust had been broken.
I asked some folks what they would do. Their advice varied, a lot, from getting serious professional help, to not worrying about it.
Then came the second time. It was so flagrant. This was too much, I decided, this was it.
I have to close down my AOL account.
The only name I’d ever really had on the Internet, Bobmercer1@aol.com, would be history.
I signed up for a new e-mail service. Going forward I would be email@example.com.
Would this help end the spam attacks being inflicted from Bobmercer1 upon my entire AOL address book? Was it the Heartbleed virus or something else? I don’t know.
But I was sick of it. Whether or not going Gmail was the right step. I felt I had to do something.
It was my way of responding to the embarrassment I felt. My name was being used, without my permission, to harass and potentially entrap other people whose email addresses were in my AOL account data.
I truly was sorry and I still am. How do you answer, other than with an apology, the emails and text messages from friends and professional acquaintances and co-workers that I was spamming them?
America Online wasn’t the first email and Internet browser service we used in our house. But with AOL, we found an on-line home.
Those were the days of dial-up – as in telephone lines. You signed onto the AOL software on your PC and it dialed a phone number to connect to the Internet.
For my job as a reporter, I connected my laptop with the separate work-phone line at my desk at home.
Eventually we bought cable modem service for the house. But AOL dial-up remained a valuable tool for me as a reporter in those pre-wireless days.
Many times when I went to a meeting in another city, I needed to file my story from some government building or business.
With AOL’s 800 number, if I could get the settings adjusted to reach an outside line, I could get my story out.
Now Wi-Fi is nearly everywhere. And when it’s not, I prowl slowly down a residential street or a downtown alley, with my laptop open on the truck seat next to me, eyeing the road while watching its screen for a signal.
I can’t remember the last time I used AOL dial-up. My current laptop doesn’t have a phone jack.
But I kept AOL. It was part of me. Bobmercer1 was my on-line identity.
Then came the spam.
Dear AOL, I hope we can still be friends.