By Sean McVeigh
We live in a digital age. Almost everything we do has some presence online. Many of them require you to make an account. It is hard to argue that living in this digital age does not make our lives profoundly better. However, for the multitude of life improvements that it provides for us, there is one side of this techno-monster that is undoubtedly a negative… passwords.
They are called “passwords” not “passwords-and-at-least-eight-characters-and-a-few-random-symbols.” How did we get to this place? Well, this has been a slow building process that we have not only watched take place right in front of our eyes, but we have been complicit in. Passwords were not always this difficult. Heck, I feel like we did not even need passwords for most things not too long ago. But they have evolved. Transformed into Frankenstein’s monster. Everything we do online now requires the most secure password ever thought of. And you better make sure it is not the same as one you have used in the past, or else.
The rules around passwords are quite hilarious. How are we at a place where we are being told the length it must be, what characters must be included, and how often it must be changed? I am not that important and do not have that sensitive of information. Why must it be kept so secure that I can rarely access it with ease? I find it funny how the few things that I actually deem important in my life (my ATM pin, email password, etc.) are usually the least complicated to deal with. It’s as if “they” know that those have to remain simple. If those are forgotten or inaccessible, our lives will be over.
It’s always the random useless accounts that get you. And it’s these meaningless accounts, which often have some minuscule piece of information that I find myself in need of, that always seem to win. I concede defeat and decide that I am going to start the arduous process of choosing the “forgot my password” option. You go through the process of either answering absurd questions that you don’t remember answering (“What was the maiden name of your best friend in 6th grade’s mom’s high school principal?) or trying to remember the password to your childhood email address that you used when you signed up for this daft service to find that recovery email they just sent you. (If anyone remembers what my password was to email@example.com, that would be a lifesaver.)
Even our phones are password protected. I was always one to turn the password on my phone off but, after the introduction of facial recognition, I thought that might be something I could get behind. Turns out to have facial recognition you need to have a password too. Why? Because the thing never works when you want it to, and you end up using the password all the time!
Around here, bike locks are as common as, well, bikes. I’m sure many of you know the pain of mixing up locks with family members and having to go through every birthday you can think of trying to open the one that is currently holding your bike hostage outside of Connolly’s. Don’t tell any of the thieves out there, but I am a one turn guy. Say my combo is “0216” (it’s not. Or is it?), I will move only one of the numbers one spot to “0316” or “1216.” If someone is going to steal my bike, they don’t know that, and the combination options are far too many to try them all.
Thank the good Lord for saved passwords. I would say that 90% of the passwords that I regularly use are saved on my devices and automatically fill. If it were not for that technology I would be lost—adrift on an ocean of forgotten passwords.
As much as I hate them, I know I am not alone. Passwords are the great equalizer. One thing about our society today is that while the rich can be so much richer than us average Joes, there truly isn’t much that they can access that we common folk can’t also. What I mean is that while the upper echelon might have a few billion more in the bank than me and might get to take the private jet instead of dealing with the huddled masses in coach, we still probably have the same cell phone and the same laptop and watch the same streaming services. What that means is that these people, who are revered as giants among us, are having the same problem getting onto Netflix as me. I wonder if Joe Biden has a section in his Notes app labeled “passwords.” Do you think George Clooney’s Gmail password is ilovebrad!!$$12345? Does Bill Gates ever have to admit he forgot his password?