It’s been a while since I blogged. I would like to blame it on an overly hectic schedule or a hospital visit caused by injuries sustained in a hotel fire rescue, but the truth is, I forgot my login and password and it took me a week to remember the correct combination of half-remembered personal trivia, significant dates, obscure capitalizations, and weird juxtapositions between letters and numbers.
I used to complain to my wife that all I did was turn off lights. Three or four hours a day I would wander the house like a janitor with a needle buried in the right-hand extreme of the autism-spectrum speedometer, flipping switches, cursing under my breath. I was like a peculiarly helpful street-corner hobo. An obscene prayer forever on my lips, my eyes lost and unfocused, distinguishing lights that I knew, in some still sane cranny of my brain, would be turned back on by an intrepid seven-year-old immediately after I’d rounded the corner.
I am happy to report that I don’t do that anymore. Because I am too busy logging in to shit. It’s all I do. My work has become like the scene in True Lies. Sign in at the desk, key in the door of the classroom, turn on the computer. Then the fun begins. Login and password to access the server. Login and password for my school email. Login and password for my personal email. Login and password for my Livestrong account, because it’s important to keep what I eat private and secure. Login and password for my personal gradebook. If I have time I check my submission managers (plural—different pubs use different online submission services) for the essays and stories I’ve written and sent away for publication. Login and password times two. I’d add Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, but our school monitors our internet use and has firewalls against such shenanigans. I can access them, as a teacher, but I’d need to submit a, you guessed it, login and password in order to access those site, which are protected by…you get the idea.
And I am a troglodyte. I spend as much time on the internet as your average gerbil. I can’t imagine someone completely wired in. I suppose they could’ve just checked all those buttons that allows the prominent device user to have his/her logins/passwords “remembered” by the computer, but I doubt it. These are the kind of people who, when I tell them that I try to keep the same password for everything whenever possible, look at me like I told them that I accidently cut my penis off with a pair of pinking sheers. They are flabbergasted that I would voluntarily commit to such a casual, unsecured life.
I can only surmise that these people have four or five hundred different logins and passwords, all of them random series of numbers, letters, fonts, and obscure punctuations that they keep in a notebook roughly the size of the Annotated Ulysses and kept in a fireproof safe buried under three feet of cement in their back yard. That or they have a system of mnemonics that would boggle Rainman or they’re tattooed on their torso like the guy from Memento. I can’t live like that. I’m simply not that important. Nothing I have, do, said, or bought on the internet is that important.
And it doesn’t really matter, does it? Last week a friend of mine had his wallet stolen from his gym locker. He’s spent the last week, from the time he discovered the theft until about three minutes ago, cancelling cards, changing passwords, rewiring his life. And it’s possible that he was too late. Because with the advent of smart phones, a thief who snags a wallet can start spending immediately. It’s not like the old days (old days=2004) when a thief had to go to the store to use a stolen card, or find a computer to purchase items online. Now, he can grab the wallet, fire up his iPhone, and sit on the crapper in the same locker room he just jacked the wallet from and start shopping/withdrawing/destroying.
I get it. Hackers are dangerous. Identity fraud is a real thing. But combating it by forcing decent, law-abiding, web-surfing citizens to spend three or four hours a day logging in to sites they want to access is basically copping to the idea that they have won, and we are at their mercy. By the time I die, Identity thieves will be responsible for stealing a month of my life following various security protocols. Even if they never stole a thing. That’s probably the same amount of time I’d spend if they did take on my identity and I had to prove/reset my cyber-reality.
You know what? I’m all for a chip. A sub-dermal identification tool. Bring it on.
Every time someone floats such an idea, people go nuts. An attack on our personal freedoms. We’ll be treated as commodities. Because at this point, because we’ve always been as free as the mountain wind and always treated as autonomous humans. It’s delusional to believe that. These are the same people who go berserk when they have to take their shoes off at the airport or get carded at the liquor store. “I fought in KOREA, YOU SONOFABITCH!” And yet a chip would save everyone those hassles. But no. It’s the first step to letting the terrorists/communists/Iranians/North-Korean-Communist-Terrorists win.
A student at my high school wrote a tongue-in-cheek satire about replacing our current hall passes with computer chips that would monitor student location. People went APESHIT. I had to field ten or twelve emails that expressed outrage and concern and assure the aggrieved parties that the article was written as a spoof. This is a credit to how well-written the article was, but for the love of God, calm down, people.
If you fear you’re being marketed, I would suggest you stop watching television. If you don’t want anyone to know where you are, leave your cell phone at home. If you’re afraid that some unknown, nefarious agency will track your whereabouts and purchases for some equally nefarious plot to damage your reputation, then stop buying blow-up sex dolls and Mexican weed every Tuesday. Really, no one gives that much of a shit about you. I promise. They’re too busy thinking about themselves.
You know the one thing you can get on the internet without a login or password? Porn. I’ve heard that, anyway. From the television. PBS. In a show about the evils of porn.
Most of the time you don’t have to type in jack shit. Sometimes you have to assure the site you’re eighteen. A window will pop up that asks “Are you over eighteen?” And you click the box that says “Yes.”
Porn thrives on anonymity. It’s the lifeblood of the industry. Which begs the question, what kind of world is it when m daughter has to get parent permission, via email password, to get on a Disney-sponsored site, but can watch a woman strap-on-fuck a llama strings-free?
Maybe the terrorists ARE winning…