When I moved to a new country I adopted a new policy: no more new loyalty cards. This means that in every single shop, every time, I have to first explain that no, I do not have your card and then confirm that no, I most definitely do not want one. It’s a never-changing choreography that we perform, the sales person and I, without fail or variation, at every transaction.
Online, things aren’t so simple. To get to the transaction, you have to log in to your account, or create one if you don’t have one already. I buy all my tickets online. I sometimes buy clothes and household items online. Books, films, allergy pills, memory cards…it’s a long list. And I use different suppliers. Different theatres, different bookstores. So far only one of them has let me complete my purchase without creating an account. (I lie: some airlines allow this as well.) And then there are the social media hang outs, the little services that help you procrastinate. Do you tweet? Pin your interests? Subscribe to blogs? Accounts at video services, on demand TV, various forums for discussion?
All this amounts to dozens of accounts, if not hundreds. Some used only once. Some of them I can’t remember having used before so I create duplicate accounts. Password after password, username after username, I keep forgetting, I request that passwords be reset and come up with new ones. I scribble them down on post-it notes but can’t find the post-it note. I toy with the idea of master password services but my paranoia is too strong. And so I let the browser remember, to leave me logged in, to some services, meaning that I use the password more rarely and am more likely to forget it and have to reset it the next time a cookie expires and the active login is lost.
Some might say that once google owns everything, things will get easier. You use the same account for everything, no worries. To which I say: a) anonymity is a precious treasure not to be surrendered lightly and b) see above: paranoia. I do not want a multinational company to be in charge of my increasingly virtual existence. It’s not that I do anything illegal with my accounts – I don’t. I just don’t want to share everything with everyone all the time. I like my privacy.
And so it goes. Bits of me scattered around the internet. Some I’ll never access again – but someone else might. Who’s going to hold them accountable for what they do with that access?
Oh, in case you’re interested, here’s the comic that instigated this brainvomit: