I try to keep my relationship with my computer simple, and have avoided getting mixed up with Facebook, Tweeter, or YouTube.
In the beginning, one four-digit password worked for all the accounts that required one. Then my life became complicated, and I needed a password containing six digits or eight digits, both alpha and numeric characters, or symbols. I now have 25 accounts that call for passwords and nine different configurations. I was never good at math and don’t know how many combinations this equal, only that this is a lot to remember.
Some of my younger friends tell me that for security purposes I should not write them down. Are they kidding? I could not function without my coffee-stained cheat sheet with changes noted from top to bottom. Even with this, I am often intimidated by the red exclamation point inside the triangle that frowns and declares that the information I supplied is not correct or does not match with their records. I have tried yelling at the screen that maybe it is their records that are wrong, but that was as effective as arguing with an automatic phone call.
If the user name and password are correct, sometimes I am faced with more security questions. No longer do they ask for my mother’s maiden name or where I was born. They have become more subjective such as, “What is the name of your favorite pet?” I can feel all those big eyes and perky little ears looking down at me from pet heaven, waiting for my answer.
Recently in spite of all my efforts, I couldn’t remember a password to get into one of my e-mail accounts, and clicked “forgot my password.” The security question was, “What is the name of your favorite nephew.” Fortunately, I only have one, so did not have to make a decision. I typed in “Robert” — no luck. I tried Bob and Bobby. In desperation I even tried the name of my niece Julia. Nothing worked. I asked for help, and my online help “friend” asked me where I went on my honeymoon. Typing in that it was none of his or her business, I gave the correct answer. The first temporary password provided did not work. But the second one did with instructions to change it within 24 hours. This should have been the end of my ordeal, but when I tried to change my password I was asked, “What is the name of your favorite nephew?”
I wrote back, this time in capital letters — knowing it would not help, but it made me feel better — and finally solved the problem.
I suggest a change in the system. Instead of giving my passwords to companies in order to give them business, they will have to use a password if they want to fill my mailbox with their advertisements, and if they lose it, a new one will be issued only when they answer some security questions about their net profits.
Then maybe my life will be simple again.