Forgotten Your Password? Tough

Years ago we got letters. We got letters from friends, we got letters from families, we got letters from people who were attracted to us or who wanted us to die and we got letters from companies. Slowly however, the internet was born and the letter died out. People stopped picking up pens to contact people and sent emails or went on Facebook or something via a computer. In fact, most of the times we choose send a letter is at Christmas to warn/brag of our families. And even they are mass-produced on that evil tippety-tap machine.

Argh! What was my teacher’s dog’s maiden name?

But then companies realised that they could send emails too. They realised that instead of taking your email and phone number just to fill the Top Trumps card of your account (‘Mr Wilson, 10 on the credit score’. ‘Ah Mr Wallace, 14!’), they could use this info to attack us with offers and deals. And then they made a terrifying discovery. They could bill us this way too.

In this, the 21st Century, who doesn’t want all of their accounts online and easy to reach? Who wouldn’t want to be able to pay their bill with the swish of a mouse, a jab of a key or a thrust of a Wii-mote? Who? Me. I don’t. And I can’t be alone in this. I don’t want to have an email plonk onto my metaphorical desk with a bill inside because I want to have a paper record of it. I want the company that is taking my money with such gay abandon to send me a sodding letter. I accept that my parents haven’t ever sent me a letter, but then they aren’t taking £300 a quarter off me either.

But the worst thing about the proliferation of the email bills: They aren’t actual bills. No, the email you receive is akin to the mail man knocking on your door and telling you there is mail for you, but he left it at the depot. NPower or BT or British Gas or whoever will send you an email saying that “Your bill is ready” and then provide a handy hyper-link. This then takes you to a page on the ‘oh so useful Internet’ and here you reach the dénouement of your epic quest. This is the moment in The Matrix when Neo becomes ‘The One’, where Steve McQueen jumps the fence in the Great Escape or Leslie Nielsen wishes you good luck and tells you that everyone is counting on you. The username and bloody password.How much less enthralling would The Matrix have been if, when Neo was about to transcend the system and become ‘The One’, a small paper-clip or pop-up appeared asking for his username and password.

Matrix – “Username and Password please”

Neo – “Er…I dunno. ‘Neo’ and ‘iamtheone’?”

Matrix – “Incorrect. Username and Password please”

Neo – “Oh, maybe I had to have a number in this password. Ok ‘Neo’ and ‘iamtheone1’”

Matrix – “Incorrect. Username and Password please”

Neo – “For christ sake….Ok, was it capitals? ‘Neo’ and ‘Iamtheone’. Or was it capitals and numbers? ‘Neo’ and ‘Iamtheone1’”

Matrix – “Incorrect. Username and Password please”

Neo – “OH SHUT UP! I don’t know! I have no idea! Is it my username? Which is wrong? Should my username be my email? Did I need the number in my password to appear in the first 8 characters? Is it case-sensitive? I don’t know! Just let me become the One, YOU BASTARD!

Matrix – “Incorrect. Username and Password please”

Neo starts sobbing

Matrix – “Would you like a password reminder?”

And invariable they are utterly inane too. I was recently signing up to a system that felt the need to suggest ‘What my earliest childhood memory was’ as valid password reminder; trouble being – I don’t know what happened yesterday. Situations like this are carried out on a daily basis around the globe. We have so many usernames, whether our email addresses or the first section of the email address or our names or something, and so many passwords, numbers and letters and caps and lowercase and jumbles. And then the frigging thing needs changing every 30 days. Life is a collection of passwords, each slightly different from each other. A password to get into your bank account, a password to get into Facebook, a pass code to buy food with your card or a password to get into your house (usually your wife’s name or similar).

I’m amazed identity theft is as big as it is. You can’t steal my identity; I don’t even know who I am


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