Don't get attached; you'll have to change that password | Suzy Fleming Leonard

·3 min read

I've come to terms with most methods of marking the passage of time.

Sure, the birthdays are adding up. The holidays come and go in a blur. And honey, every anniversary only makes me love you more.

Growing old is a privilege, right?

But I'm starting to have issues with one quarterly event. Seriously, y'all, how can three months pass so quickly?

It came around again this week, just when I'd settled into a routine, that terse email from the corporate password bot.

Dear Suzanne,

The password for your account will expire in 14 day(s).

That's followed by a passage, in angry red type, reminding me that easy-to-remember passwords like Summer2022! aren't allowed.

I get it. Easily remembered also means easily guessed. But how the heck are we supposed to keep up with all these passwords?

If I'd known I would need to remember a password for work, my bank, my credit card, my doctor's office, my dog's vet, the Lilly Pulitzer website, my library card, my car, every single airline I fly, the cable company, Netflix, my phone, my watch and the blood bank (and that's just for starters), I swear I wouldn't have memorized so many song lyrics in the '70s and '80s.

You're only as strong as your weakest password.
You're only as strong as your weakest password.

And there are so many rules.

Each password must be at least eight characters long, and must include letters, numbers, symbols and the fingerprints of an Elf on the Shelf.

We're not supposed to use the same password for different accounts.

We shouldn't use our own name, the name of our spouse, children or pets.

No birthdays or anniversaries.

For Pete's sake, don't use an address, the city where you were born or your mother's maiden name. And don't you even think about writing it down somewhere.

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If I let it, my phone will be happy to create a Strong Password for me, but that frightens me. Have you seen those strong passwords? They're written in hieroglyphics, and they're so long, the whole thing doesn't even fit on the screen. Plus, the next time my internet crashes and I have to re-enter the password, where am I going to find an ancient Egyptian to interpret it for me?

Of course, the alternative is a Weak Password. Because what we all need is to have our electronic devices taunt us and call us weak.

Don't get me started on passwords for accounts I share with my husband. Those tend to lead to conversations that go something like this:

Hey, babe, did you change the password for the phone company?

Oh, yeah. I did. It wouldn't let me in.

So what'd you change it to?

Um, I forgot.

At which point we change it to something else we will both forget.

Why do I hang onto my antique AOL email account? Aside from it being vintage, and vintage is cool, I keep it because I'm afraid if I change email addresses, I'll never, ever, ever be able to recover another password as long as I live.

So now I've got 14 days to come up with a Strong Password that will make my boss proud. One I can remember, but that no one else can decipher. A password that's not the same, or is even close to the same, as any password I've used in the past two years.

I can do this. I am strong. I am invincible. I am password.

Uh, oh. Now Helen Reddy and I have given the bots a clue. Change password. Again.

Whew. Password changed ... at least for 90 days.

Suzy Fleming Leonard is a features journalist with more than three decades of experience. Reach her at Find on Facebook: @SuzyFlemingLeonard or on Instagram: @SuzyLeonard.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: How many passwords can one person be expected to remember?