I’ve just returned to planet earth from the Never-Neverland I’ve been living in for the past few weeks. Also known as “computer problems.”

You’ve probably spent some time there on occasion, too. Some problems are merely annoying or frustrating, like computers that start getting sluggish, or screens that freeze up during a video session. Others are more alarming, like malware that slips by your anti-virus protection and can do serious damage to your computer or the information you have stored there.

My problems started while I was testing links for a volunteer project I was working on. I don’t know what I accidentally clicked on, or even if that’s what caused the problem, but all of a sudden I was bombarded with large red and black pop-ups warning me that I had been hacked, that multiple viruses had been downloaded to my computer, and that I was vulnerable to attack and needed to renew my expired virus protection (although my actual anti-virus software was up to date and working, and wasn’t from any of the companies named in the pop-ups). I deleted each message, but as I did, another would appear, sometimes twelve or fifteen in a row.

Before long, I started having other problems. My computer got slow and sluggish. The audio and video went out during a Zoom call. And when my computer went to sleep after I’d been off-line a while, it wouldn’t wake up again. To get it working, I had to power down and then restart it every time. For a while, I dreaded even sitting down in front of my computer and logging on. I was worried about what new problems may pop up – no pun intended – and I hated the reminder of how dependent I am on my computer, and how much disruption it causes when something goes wrong.

On two separate calls, Geek Squad fixed the problem and told me what to do if it should happen again. Both fixes turned out to be temporary, however – although the problem got less severe and was happening less often than before. Also, my computer returned to normal operating speed, and after it went to sleep, it woke up again when I told it to.

I haven’t seen any of the pop-up threats for a few days now, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the problem is resolved, with no harm done other than the aggravation it gave me and the time it cost me. It still bothers  me, though, how something like that can feel like a black cloud hanging over me, and like some ominous, dangerous stranger is watching me and waiting to pounce.

Hopefully, that’s all behind me now. But this is a good time to remind everyone to keep your anti-virus software up to date, change your passwords early and often, and be extremely cautious about clicking on links, even ones that seem – and should be – safe. Because someone is always looking for a way to get in, to cause trouble, or to steal your identity and information.

There’s a lot of exploring our computers allow us to do, and a lot of places we may want to go. But Never-Neverland certainly isn’t one of them.

March 28, 2023
©Betty Liedtke, 2023

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