The agony of passwords and personal information requests online

Password written in scrabble tiles

It seems that my list of pet hates is expanding as the days of my life increases. First it was just a grizzle about passwords, and the need to remember the odd one or two. In the olden days, in the dim dark past, passwords were something muttered by foreign spies as they knocked on the door of a tawdry and shabby hotel. The password gave them access to collect or pass state secrets to our arch enemies. How times have changed.

Now everywhere I travel on the internet of my life, they demand a password, and an email address. Become a registered customer! the web page screams at me, as if just the fact that I am a customer and want to pay my bloody bill is not enough. The irony is not lost on me that often when I have provided these details of my life and nearly divulged the birth weight of my first born, their failsafe system has been hacked and my password protected account is now floating around in cyberspace ready to be sold to the highest bidder. I find this is hardly an incentive to join their special customer base at all.

I know I can have a password manager, a bit like another aspect of the nanny state, but I don’t want one. I am perverse really, wanting to have some modicum of control but not wanting to keep devising new eight letter words with numbers and special characters and capitals to then be told it is not a strong password, which is really code for – your creation skills are crap and think again you moron.

Then there is the indecency of being asked to put in your birth year. It’s bad enough that it is eons ago but to have to visually scroll down, down, down, through the 2000s into the depths of the 1900s, the years rolling by. The level of angst becomes reflected in your drawn face and the burden of ageing seems overwhelming, to say the least.

But the icing on the cake of pet hates is the demand from some government institutions to have a list of names that you were once known by. This is not the woke version of she/he/they. It is more insidious than that, more like “have you run several businesses under alias or committed crimes and changed your name?” But in the spread of this question, the net captures other small fry.

This, of course, discriminates against all the women in Australia who gave up their maiden name in marriage, either wilfully or forcefully from social pressure at the time. Do men have to list anything but their one name? If they happen to get divorced, as nearly half the adult population does, do they have to admit this on their government form? Of course not. Their emotional failures are not paraded in front of them. All quiet on the western front, nothing to see here. Unblemished as the driven snow. No poor judgement and marital failures to report.

And let’s not get started on those push down and turn screw-top lids that won’t open … spare my sanity.

What pet hates do you have? Why not share them in the comments section below?

Also read: Friday Funnies: Making fun of passwords

Written by Dianne Motton

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