I was on the phone with my mom this weekend, and she asked about an email she sent me last week, and I had to admit to her, I haven’t checked my personal email account all week because I forgot the password to it. Again.
Don’t judge, but I’m about to admit that it’s a free Yahoo! Mail account. To regain some cred, I set this account up the first week free Yahoo! Mail existed, in 1997, upon Yahoo’s acquisition of Rocketmail. There are emails in that account from long-dead people, as well as emails from many versions of “former me,” a person Dan Gilbert says I wouldn’t actually like if I met her now. But former me and current me both took care of that old account, watched the storage limits, cleaned out the spam, changed the password every so often.
Then one day, after some redesign or other last year, Yahoo forced me to change my password and to please be sure to include a capital letter. And that nitpicky little command, for some reason, I don’t know why, but it pissed me off. So I changed it … but then, just to show those Yahoo b*stards, I forgot it. Three weeks later I did a password reset to get back into the account. And then forgot it again. The incident in the first paragraph represents me forgetting my third password.
Even without Lorrie Faith Cranor’s advice, I know perfectly well how to create a good, memorable password. You learn a thing or two by being on the internet since before Yahoo! Mail. My password for my personal email account is probably very memorable. I just can’t remember it, because I can’t stand when people tell me what to do, and it occupies my entire working memory to be annoyed about it. So instead I create a new password every few weeks, bury it in a hole in my brain like a lunatic squirrel with a peanut, forget where it is just like a squirrel does, create a new one and bury it somewhere else and lose it too.
So while I am ruminating on this my mother is silent.
Well, why didn’t you just write it down?
Watch Lorrie Faith Cranor’s TED Talk, What’s wrong with your pa$$w0rd?