“OMG, your bank details are posted on your Insta handle” squealed the daughter in alarm late last night. She definitely visits my handle way more than I do. My handle @jessiepauloninsta had been changed to @jeessiepauloninsta and was busy selling bitcoins. My photo had been used on one post to celebrate my “returns”. Hacking in the past has meant that your friends would receive messages pleading for help and money. This is different.

I’ve been forced to be an Instagram Influencer!

I’ve mostly lurked on Insta. When everyone said Facebook is dead I also opened an account there and post the occasional photo. I did not realize I was an Insta influencer until today. I have received SO many messages asking if I am actually promoting Bitcoin. I sincerely hope that none of my friends is buying on the basis of these messages. I would hope that they exercised their intelligence and did their due diligence.

My account has been violated and my identity is being enslaved into selling bitcoins.

I was one of the earliest users of Facebook. I remember attending a Fortune event in 2009 and meeting David Kirkpatrick who went on to author “The Facebook Effect” a year later. At the time Facebook was this shiny new hope and I signed up. A year later I was competing for likes, friends, and fraandship. I was writing my first book, No Money Marketing, and I catalogued everything from the title to its launch on Facebook. Of late my usage has been mostly for the groups which are very useful for niche hyperlocal topics and as an archive of my photos. Pretty harmless to keep it going, I thought. Till last night.

I have reached out through the proper channels, and also the back channels to retrieve my account. But the damage may already be done if any of my followers considered me an authority on Bitcoin. The damage has certainly been done to my sense of safety online. I don’t want to do anything hasty but I will definitely be reconsidering social going forward. Even LinkedIn where I was amongst the first 100,000 on the platform.

Back to In Real Life (IRL)

We were binge-watching White Collar at home – it was launched in October 2009 and what stood out was how often people called each other rather than rely on text. In my current crisis, much of the communication around the hack has been done on Whatsapp. Including finding help and resources. Whatsapp is definitely more personal than the other platforms. But perhaps if I relied more on phone calls I’d be safer? And people would feel comfortable calling each other before running off to invest in the next goldrush?
From validation to information

I confess that I have been hooked to the likes. I realize that this was the search for external validation. I am hoping that my lack of need for social is connected to a lack of need for external validation. More honestly I think it is also the fact that social has moved from actually connecting you to people to providing information and entertainment. Closer to a hyper-personalised TV than a way to engage with friends and family.

Nowadays my “filler” go-to is Spelling Bee on NYT along with a brief glance at the news. Search is either google or ChatGPT. Entertainment is streaming channels. I am looking to spend more time on things like baking and sewing. Is it a quest for nostalgia? Or has social run its course?

LinkedIn takes care of corporate networking and validation and Whatsapp takes care of engagement with friends and family. Should I simplify my life? What do you think? Which channels are delivering value to you?

Were you expecting a newsletter about Women’s Day? I’m so sorry.

The advantage (and disadvantage) of a real person writing this newsletter is that you hear from me on what matters to me in real time.

And now I’m off to try to free my poor enslaved online identity.

Have a great weekend!

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Jessie Paul is the Founder and CEO of Paul Writer, a firm she founded in early 2010 to raise the bar for marketing in India. Previously, as Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro’s IT business and as Global Brand Manager at Infosys, Jessie has been recognized for her contribution towards putting the Indian IT industry on the global map. With over 18 years in services marketing, including a stint with Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, Jessie is considered an expert in brand globalization and has been named one of the most influential business women in the Indian IT industry.


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