Man

The Forgotten Password

password_locked

I couldn’t remember a much-needed password today. They gave me a few tries, which was sweet of them, but then they locked me out of their system. There was no way to get back in.

I like to feel in control when I’m online – like I’m the boss. I can click and drag;

tap, post, open, close, minimize, maximize;

browse, skip, skim, stay, play, pause, swipe, buy;

unsubscribe, mute, uncheck the box, ignore the ad;

fill out the survey, send the message, add a comment;

and I really want to add another semicolon;

and one more semicolon after that last one;

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; See how I can endlessly type semicolons? ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

– in other words, I am in absolute and complete control of my Web Situation (let me call it that). I read, I click, I do whatever I want whenever I want. I honestly truly believe that I am the the “I” in “Internet.”

If I wanted, I could start a site called “Semicolon” and just type semicolons whenever I wanted. I checked and the domain Semicolon.com is taken but semicolon.guru is available. Semi.net currently runs for $5,400.

The Internet is the epitome of freedom, liberty, and stupidity. If you want stupid, read Reddit. If you want smart, read this blog.

Basically, I own my online experience, one of my very few actual possessions. It’s an actual possession I actually included in my will to apportion to my posterity upon my death, evenly distributed.

After the Internet built up my optimism and personal confidence over these precious Internet surfing years, the password lockdown company took it all away. I was now helpless and virtually broke.

This company apparently doesn’t use the Internet. The Internet is all about openness, transparency, sociality, friendship, and love. Being locked out of a website is foreign to the entire Web experience. You would think everyone knows this, right?

Wrong.

Only an evil corporation grounded in closed-minded, rigid, inflexible, proud, insular, reclusive thinking completely out of touch with the times and modern reality could exact a punishment as severe as this. Too harsh? I’m just getting started.

I’m the poor customer who is merely trying to make the world a better place. Don’t they know me?

“To not be known is death.”

–Josh Rolph

I’m the poor customer who is trying to keep them in business. Don’t they understand me?

“To not be understood is whatever comes before death.”

–Josh Rolph

Perhaps Corporation Evil didn’t value the fact that I needed to access their services more than ever before in my lifetime. I needed their online service immediately. I could not wait.

This was a now or later situation. I needed them to come through now, not later. Over the years, so many other Lesser Evil Corporations had exercised a degree of patience – kindness – with me. I couldn’t even remember what later was like.

When I had forgotten a password with the Lesser Evil Corporations, they would at least show a little mercy. They would allow me to change my password with a verified email already on file or give me ten or even unlimited chances to get it right. Or they would lock me out for a few minutes. Or they would offer some other two-step verification method using my phone number or asking a question like what was the name of my childhood best friend’s dog.1

Corporation Evil offered the most conservative password option of them all: They offered only three tries. After three unsuccessful tries – not even three and a half – I saw the cold response:

“Too many failed attempts to login. You are now locked out of our website.”

And that was it. No offer to help. No saving me from their password purgatory. To them, I was worse than dead. It was as if I never existed.

How could you do that to me? How could you just….leave? I spent many hours with you over the years and now, just because I had relied on my computer for awhile to automatically fill in the password — just because of that — when my computer forgot how to fill it in again for some unexplained reason you wouldn’t accept me anymore! How dare you! It wasn’t my fault! It was my stupid computer!

Listen, if you will do this to me, I can get you back. I’m not a hacker and I have no ties to North Korea, but I think I know a way to get back at you, you inhumane power hungry pawn of the devil.

More on my plans after a few brief thoughts from this site’s sponsor:2

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It is very possible these days for the modern, connected individual and business to need dozens if not hundreds of passwords of varying lengths and configurations to access needed services from everyone and their dog. I need a password just to type on my own blog. (BTW – this blog’s password is “WhyAmIdo!ngThis?”)

Password-protected sites need to understand that the over 35 crowd was not formally trained to create unique configurations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols for every organization, product, or business they would ever use.

The younger generations are different. My one year old already has several passwords to his favorite sites: Lego.com, Huggies.com, and managing his 529 savings plan with MerrilLynch.com. For privacy reasons, he has made it abundantly clear on many a bedtime he will not under any circumstances divulge them to me.

The first time I forgot a password was when I returned from Christmas break in sixth grade and forgot the combination to my locker. My locker combination was three two digit numbers, six digits in all. That was my first password I used for all of middle school. I think I changed lockers only twice in high school. So three passwords memorized in a six year period. That was it. Oh, and I remember a bike lock with a three digit combination from pre-drivers license days. So four passwords memorized as a teenager. Little did I know what was to come…

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There is a better way. If we all band together, we can create a password-free world. It will take all our collective energies, but I am confident it can be done.

First, we have to deal with Corporation Evil. I came up with a two-step plan to accomplish this task.

How to Get Back At Corporation Evil

  1. Tweet my problem with them so everyone can see.
  2. That’s all I can think of.

Second, we need to acknowledge that the password problem is a viral epidemic that must end. Here, I offer a four step plan to defeat it once and for all.

How to Fix the Password Epidemic

  1. Eliminate all passwords.
  2. Require that everyone simply trust each other.
  3. Create a jobs plan for hackers where the government finds good-paying jobs to keep them off the streets, FDR WPA style.
  4. Require Internet companies that have passwords to have satellite offices in every city block and rural square to get to know people personally; vouching for them so they don’t need to use passwords. We will call them the Gentle Mafia.

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I’m sure there are other possible solutions. I haven’t thought this through too well. But I couldn’t wait another minute without getting a proposal out there to the general public. If we begin working on this together now, we can share a common password-free future together.

Oh, and check out the Most popular 25 passwords of 2013: some of my favorites include monkey, password, and 123456.

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Endnotes

1. Hermie.

2. Me.

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Your thoughts?