A pox on passwords

password organiser Emilie Ogez

You know what I’m afraid of: that when I get to heaven, I’ll be asked for my password before I can login. And there ain’t no way in hell I’ll have a clue what that bloody password is supposed to be.

Now, set aside the notion that I believe in a life hereafter coz I don’t and wait a moment till I pull on my cranky pants. There we are: nice and tight so I can bottle up all my frustration and maintain the rage. Here we go . . .

Bloody passwords. They are the pandemic of the digital era. Like the latest ebola outbreak, password contagion appears to be uncontainable. As a haemorrhagic affliction, the insistence on passwords forces us to spew forth mostly unintelligible concoctions whose defining characteristic is our inability to remember them for longer than our current online session.

And as testament to humankind’s inhumanity to itself, we are being infected by a virus of digital entities who insist on forcing us to create ever more complex algebraic formulae to access our own data.

Take note of the number of organisations who now admonish us that “your password is not secure enough”, forcing us to create an abstraction that will prove embarrassingly unmemorable.

Okay, I can accept the desirability of my passwords for financial accounts and medical records to be reasonably tough to crack. But do I really care if someone wishes to hack my job seeker site and find out what positions I might be interested in or have applied for? Who cares what images I may have perused on Shutterstock? Will I be bothered if anyone discovered what articles I like to read on the news sites I subscribe to? No, I couldn’t give a damn!

But these sites will not let me exercise a fundamental freedom that is supposedly enshrined in the democratic dictates of the society I live in. I am allowed to walk around with baggy pants that make it simple for someone to pick my pockets if so inclined. More fool me if I did dress like that but the choice is mine.

Now we are being stood over by faceless entities that are more totalitarian than Mussolini ever dreamed of being. Megalomaniacs like Facebook who believe they have the right to play psychological games with our heads by feeding us positive or negative news in a complete travesty of human rights principles. And that lot dare to lecture us on the strength of our passwords? Get outta here.

Not to mention that plenty of these internet enterprises have been caught by inadequate corporate security and get hacked, making a complete mockery of the strength of any of our passwords. Did I say don’t mention that?

And what of the massively popular sites like Flickr, Yahoo, Hotmail, gmail and the like where vast lexicons of permutations of your name have already been registered? You are forced into a mind-numbing drama of conceiving a digital identity (username) – and password – that are at the same time highly imaginative yet refreshingly straightforward so you can recall them ages later when you revisit the site. Fat bloody chance.

As I yet again rummage in the top drawer of my desk and look at the tatty page torn from a notebook on which over the previous year I have scrawled the details of more than thirty sites and passwords, I am realising that enough is enough. This idiocy has to stop.

The simple life I want to lead is being denied me by the autocratic and arbitrary admonitions of faceless nerds and malevolent moguls who are driving me to distraction.

I know I am not alone so I ask those who are cleverer than me to nominate a strategy or strategies through which we can reclaim some freedom for ourselves before it is lost entirely. Or let’s just attack the nether regions of these entities with red hot pokers so they can feel our pain.

The time for civil disobedience has come. But how do we do it effectively?


Acknowledgement: Password organiser – Emilie Ogez

Passwords – Lulu Hoeller