Years ago in an art class I was taking the instructor challenged us to do a self-portrait. I chose to do acrylic on canvas roughly 30 inches by 24 inches in size. In a few loose purple brushstrokes I did a stylized, abstract impression of a female torso.
In what even now, 12 or 15 years later, appears to be an act of cynicism I chose to define/identify/portray myself as a series of numbers. That and I couldn’t have done a face if my life depended on it!
I looked through my life and my wallet and deliberately chose the numbers that were significant to me. I used my birthdate, age, social insurance number, Alberta health care number, number of children, years of marriage, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, justice of the peace number, and more. Even back in the day before identity theft was rampant, I knew enough to disguise the numbers, to have some run off the canvas and have others intersect and intertwine.
Fast forward to 2007. Can you imagine doing that sort of project today? What with passwords and PIN numbers and access codes and usernames, I’d be a basket case. As it is I’m suffering from password/username/PIN number fatigue.
At last count I had three email accounts for work and play, each one requiring a user name and password. Among the contents of my wallet are debit and fuel cards requiring PIN numbers. And of course we shouldn’t use the same one for all of our cards because that would just be too easy. And don’t you dare write it down, either, because it could fall into the wrong hands.
To access my own damn phone messages on my own damn phone I need to enter a password. Likewise for the cell phone. To access my home messages while away requires entering a series of 24 digits! Our home long-distance package requires entering a seven digit number before the desired number.
Online banking is being encouraged (dare I say pushed) at every turn by both banks and anyone who sends us a bill for anything from satellite service to natural gas. More to remember.
Online transactions involving money and identity disclosure have heightened awareness of security risks. Simply signing up for a newsletter or contest or accessing your own data in professional organizations also requires a username and password. Haven’t we all had to cough up our mother’s maiden name or our favourite car or the name of our grade one teacher in order to prevent security breaches?
I understand it but I don’t have to like it. we’re being warned to avoid obvious choices (that we may actually remember!) and choose a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Using foreign words is another hint. Or creating an acronym from a phrase like Mary had a little lamb: MHALL. You then add a few numbers, change some letters to symbols, add upper and lower case, and you’ve got a humdinger of a password.
Then if you can remember all that You’re a far better woman than I am, from where I sit.