Remember When You Didn’t Have to Create a Profile Everywhere You Go?

There is a support group for people who sign up for too many online profiles.  The group meets once a week in the basement of an old church.  I went to last week’s meeting.

The group is led by a woman who at one point held profiles from 157 different websites.  “Each account had a unique password with at least one uppercase letter, one number, and one symbol,” she said to me as she introduced herself.  “This was a great source of pride to me.”  Then one day she couldn’t remember one of the passwords, and she had a nervous breakdown, and had to spend some time in an institution, where she was heavily medicated and had to re-learn how to say her own name without numbers or underscores.  She eventually became rehabilitated enough to go into a group home and now her responsibilities are leading the weekly meetings and refilling the reservoir on the Keurig coffee dispenser.

We sat in a circle and one of the attendees, a young man, began to speak.

“I had a Google account and a Facebook account and a Twitter account.  Then I joined LinkedIn, even though I didn’t have a job, and I had to borrow a coat and tie and pressed shirt from a friend for the profile photo, and because the t-shirt was mine you could still see the dinosaur design through the white shirt I borrowed.

“And then I joined Pinterest even though I had nothing to pin, and Goodreads even though I haven’t read a book in years.  Frankly, I had thought they stopped making books.

“Then there was a site that advertised free music, and a site that counted calories.”  He tapped his abdomen as he says this.  “I had to pick a username and password for all these accounts, and I always picked the same password:  RoseBud.   I thought I was being smart.  Turned out I wasn’t so smart, because it was the same username and password that I use for my online banking, and my identity was stolen.  Luckily, I didn’t have any money.  So I deleted all these accounts and now I’m much happier.  I even tried to buy a book, but I had deleted my Amazon account.”

Next a young woman spoke.  “I was on all those sites and apps that he was on, and more.  Except I used a different username and password for each one.  I was like a secret agent, walking the Earth with a stack of drivers’ licenses, trying to keep track of multiple identities.  I didn’t know who I was.  I created a document in Microsoft Word to keep track of all my usernames and passwords, but then I got worried that a hacker would be able to find the document.  So I encrypted the usernames and passwords with a code of my own making.  But I had to keep the code somewhere, and I was afraid to keep it on my computer.  So I wrote the code with a pen and paper and hid it inside of a box of Cracklin’ Oat Bran.”

Suddenly all the eyes were on me.  It was time to share my story.  But I didn’t know what to say.  I clearly didn’t have a problem.  I was in attendance only because I needed a topic for my blog, a blog that I access with a password that I change every week because I’m worried that someone will hack my account and start posting unfunny blog posts.  These people were the crazy ones.  Not me.  So I finished my cup of coffee and said that I wasn’t ready to talk about myself.  And they smiled, and thanked me, and said to keep coming.

14 thoughts on “Remember When You Didn’t Have to Create a Profile Everywhere You Go?

  1. Hillarious! However, I’m crying inside as I relate to a few members of the support group. The day is coming where naming your baby for the birth certificate will resemble a profile just to make it easier on your kid – only a matter of time.

    1. Thanks – they probably won’t even let people have children without a username and password picked out, plus an email address that actually works.

      On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 8:21 AM, Mark Kaplowitz's Blog

  2. I’m living for the day that an embedded bar code in your forearm, along with a thumbprint and retina recognition is all that it will take. Fun post, Mark. Now you got me thinking..

    1. Thank you. I definitely like the embedded bar code idea. Sometimes my thumbprint is greasy from eating potato chips, and a retina scan reminds me too much of that movie “Minority Report”…creepy. But a bar code in my arm…it’ll be just like taking a book out of the library! I can pretend I’m a product on sale at Target. I hope the reader will make a beep.

      On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 9:23 AM, Mark Kaplowitz's Blog

  3. It’s probably awful that I have the same username and password for everything, I just don’t have the capacity to recall that many 6-8 digit random series of numbers and letters. I’m probably begging someone to steal my identity, but all I have to my name is 200 pairs of shoes and a visa bill so…

    1. You have to build up your memory strength, like the people who memorize thousands of digits of pi. That’s probaby why they do it.

      On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 11:12 AM, Mark Kaplowitz's Blog

  4. That’s is a funny thought on a frustrating new culture. I only have a few password combination I use because it hard to keep track as everyone knows. What frustrates me the most is the ones with “strength of password”. It criticizes your choice of a password. Write a blog on that topic. Thanks for the laugh.

    1. Exactly! Who are they to say 123 is not a secure password? I made that my 3 digit telephone banking password despite the suggestion not to use 3 digits in a row then promptly forgot it not imagining I would choose something so obvious. I only remembered when I realized I had written it on the back of my debit card. Genius.

  5. Enjoyed the post. I hate it when I need to use the password prompt and it asks me a question for which I no longer can remember the answer, e.g. “What is the name of your favorite pet?” I think to myself, “What pet?, I had a pet??” Funny though, I now remember I forgot your birthday Mark. Hope it was a good one, Carol Gardner

    1. Thank you, Carol. I did have a good birthday. And I can’t remember those answers, either. Especially after I started taking the advice of some Internet security expert somewhere who said to set up the security question with an answer to a different question. So, for example, the answer to “your first pet” would be the make of your first car. Soon it seemed like the goal of all this security was to secure my accounts against myself.

  6. After read this I feel I like hhhhh… me too do that, I lost my mobile so often, still made several different account in one gmail example, then as i predict forgot all the password, so I just made new one 😛 Humorist article, great to read. Greetings from me 🙂

    1. Thank you – it is comforting to know that I’m not the only one who has to use the “lost password” feature more often than not. Good to hear from you.

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