Humor by Greg Schwem

I am staring at my computer screen reading and re-reading the four words that confound me the most whenever I surf the Internet:

"Please enter your password."

I had become a member of this online shopping site just three days ago, creating the obligatory password in the process. I took the advice of cyber experts who warn us not to duplicate our passwords and fashioned something entirely new. However, I failed to take the advice of cyber experts who also suggest we write the password down somewhere.

"I'll remember it," I thought. "It's my first Little League team followed by the year I began playing baseball. Badgers1973."

Now, as I continue to type the password into the box and hit "enter," only to be stymied by "Incorrect Password," I am second-guessing myself. Is this the right password for the right site? It's a question I'm asking myself more frequently these days. Does "funnydad49" allow me to book tickets via American Airlines' website, or is that what I use to check my Google mail? Does "3472" unlock my phone or raise and lower my garage door by means of the electronic keypad outside my house? Is "cyberdork871" my Apple ID that lets me shop in the iTunes store through my iPad or is it the code I created for my home wireless network that lets the iPad talk to the iTunes store?

As I approach the half-century mark of life, my eyesight and my memory skills are deteriorating at alarming rates. Bifocals help the former, but there is no medical remedy for password absent-mindedness. My phone contains an app called Password Keeper that promises to store all the passwords I have created, but I'm not using it for one simple reason:

The app is password protected. I'd need a password to retrieve my passwords.

If you are among those people mentally exhausted due to the jumble of word and number combinations swirling around your brain like lottery balls, take heart. I'm creating a new social network and I'm inviting you to join. I won't reveal all the details, but here's an elevator pitch in case any venture capitalists are reading.

The network will be called OurPassword and sign up is free. Once you have established an account (you won't need a password to do so) I will send you the single password that all members use. Let's say that password is "FAILEDGEEK100." That becomes your password for EVERYTHING you do on line. If you forget the OurPassword password, just seek out another member. OurPassword may never rival Facebook in terms of participants, but I'm confident somebody will be nearby. Imagine sitting at your desk and being unable to make an online dinner reservation because your password escapes you. Just shout, "Is anybody here a member of OurPassword?" I guarantee that, within moments, somebody will glide over and whisper in your ear, "FAILEDGEEK100."

There is one qualification before joining the network. You must first prove that you have been locked out of at least three different websites because you couldn't remember your password. Just snap three photos of your computer screen containing the message, "Password failed" and send them to me as evidence. I'm doing this for security purposes; I don't want this singular password to get into the hands of hackers. By showing me that you are consistently forgetting your passwords, you are also proving you do not have the intelligence to hack. Besides, hackers aren't usually middle aged and suffering memory lapses. From what I've read, hackers are twentysomethings who still live in their parents' basements and whose only friends growing up were a laptop and a poster of Steve Jobs.

I promise I will never change the password, for that would defeat the purpose. Still interested? Stay tuned because I will reveal more details later. Right now, my deadline is approaching and it's time to upload this column to my editors. I just need to log in to the server and then enter my pa . . .

On second thought, maybe I'll just fax it.

Humorist Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad

Humor & Funny Stories - A Password for the Ages and the Aging | Humor - Greg Schwem

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