Rachel Weinstein of Detroit, Michigan, couldn't figure out what was wrong with her Internet and email service. No matter how many times she hit the "Refresh" or "Inbox" tabs, no messages appeared. Her Facebook page showed no new or old messages, wall postings, event invitations or even friend requests. Weinstein wondered if her e-troubles could have been caused by a new and insidious computer virus, or perhaps even a case of identity theft.
After extended conversations with customer service representatives from Google (Weinstein's primary email provider), Facebook (used by Weinstein to get a peekaboo into her "friends'" daily lives) and MySpace (which Weinstein uses for artistic networking and occasional threesomes), Weinstein finally learned the truth.
"There's nothing wrong with your Internet service or your computer," Google consultant Jess Johnson informed her. "You're just a loser."
Weinstein admits that the information that she was a loser and no one was seeking out any contact with her makes sense.
"It did seem strange that even though I was able to send email no problem, I wasn't receiving any. I couldn't figure out how it could work one way and not the other."
Weinstein doesn't deny, however, that the news was unpleasant to hear.
"It's painful," she says, her black eyes tearing up just a bit. "But at the same time, I do feel better just to know."
Google's Johnson advised that others encountering Web difficulties similar Weinstein's would do well to learn from her experience.
"My first instinct is always to tell them to get a life," reports Johnson. "But that would probably be too much pressure. So I just tell them to email me their concerns. And I make sure to email them back, mainly just to show them that their email is working. But you know, even a generic email message seems to improve their whole outlook a lot. On EVERYTHING. It's amazing the impact a little customer service can have."
Weinstein hasn't given up on the Internet altogether. She's joined multiple Meetup groups, and has even posted several ideas for future Meetup events - thus far to no response, but Weinstein is not planning to allow that to deter her.
"I know it will happen for me someday," she says, the resolve evident in the steely set of her jaw. "I just know it."