There are some things in life that are such a hassle: filling the car up with petrol; taking a cheque to cash into the bank; and changing your passwords. These are not big things and thankfully you don’t have to do them that often but they get on your nerves.
The yellow light that flashes on my dashboard makes my heart sink as I’ll have to go out of my way and stand on a cold forecourt while I fill up my car. My hands will smell of diesel as well. I don’t mean to be ungrateful but when my mother sends me a cheque for my birthday it lies in my wallet for weeks as I have to go the bank. I don’t seem to be anywhere near one when they are open.
And when the dialogue box pops up to say that my password has run out I know that I’m in for a protracted period of pain.
I know passwords aren’t that hard and changing them is really a doddle but things are a little more complicated these days. Firstly you have so many more passwords that you need, such as for your online shopping, banking, social media and work applications. It would be easier just to use the same one but that’s the second thing. With security concerns to the fore they now need to be more complicated with capital letters, numbers and symbols included to make them more difficult to hack.
You need to get the balance right between a complexity that GCHQ couldn’t crack and something that you can easily remember for that occasion in which you inevitably forget. So you resort to combinations of information relevant to your own life and hope for the best.
But passwords aren’t about numbers or letters and this is why they are so awkward to change. Passwords are really about a pattern that your fingers learn to type or press. After a few days your fingers bypass your brain altogether and remember the password as a mere caressing of the keyboard or digital pad.
The problem is that a new password means that you have to reconnect your fingers to your brain, unlearn the patterns that they have become so used to and force them into a new set of patterns. Without your brain telling your fingers what to do they will do what they know best and type your old password. They can still catch you out weeks later.
And what is most annoying about passwords is that they are a small window into life and how hard it is to change anything that we have done regularly over time. Most activities we undertake are done without any conscious thought at all. I once heard that nearly everyone will step up onto a kerb with their right foot first and trying to do so with your left takes real effort. Try it next time you are out.
But that gives me a good idea for a password: L3ftf00tf1rst?