Wednesday, September 2, 2020

How Many Online Accounts Are Too Many?

 I have a simple question: How many “user names” and “passwords” are enough? Out of curiosity, I counted up all the various online accounts and memberships I have that require login information, and my current total is 93.

Ninety-three! That is not a typo. I’m kind of afraid if I reach 100, my computer is going to burst into flames.
Before I counted all my user names and passwords, I guessed that I had around 40 accounts. But when I added them up, it was more than twice that number.

Some of the passwords are work-related, such as equipment selection and pricing programs from various manufacturers and access to areas of their websites that are not available to the general public. I have about 20 of these accounts.

The rest are personal, such as websites where I make purchases online: Target, Walmart, L.L. Bean, Home Depot, Dunkin Donuts, Panera, and Big Lou’s Discount House of Surplus Military Ordnance. (I’m kidding. I would never buy surplus military ordnance over the Internet with a credit card. It’s much better off the back of a stolen truck with cash.)

Then there are the various accounts I need in order to pay for all the stuff I buy online: two bank accounts, three credit cards, a debit card, PayPal, and Big Lou’s Discount House of Payday Loans at Only 30% Interest — Compounded Daily.

I have online accounts to pay other bills over the Internet: electric company, homeowner’s insurance, cell phone, and our Internet provider. (That’s an interesting arrangement: we pay for our Internet service via the Internet.)
There are many accounts related to travel: JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Expedia, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Hertz, Enterprise, Triple-A, EZ Pass, Uber, and Big Lou’s Discount House of Forged Theme Park Passes.

The rest of my online user names and passwords are related to digital communications. They include a handful of different email accounts, my blog and Mailchimp accounts, a few wifi networks, access to the online versions of various newspapers and magazines, the MLB app, YouTube TV, and social media. By the way, I only have social media accounts with LinkedIn and Facebook. And yes, I know I’ve written many times in the past that Facebook was created by Satan, but I had to set up an account recently to watch Sunday Mass being live-streamed by my parish during the shutdown. I wonder if the Prince of Darkness had mixed feelings about having his invention used to proclaim the Gospel?

Then, of course, there are the accounts I have with the four corporations that run the entire world: Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. I think when children are born nowadays, the hospital sets up user accounts for the infants with these companies. I guess that makes sense, since it’s impossible to be a member of modern society without this quartet of digital leviathans collecting personal data about every aspect of our lives.

To keep things simple, I use the exact same user name and password for every single one of my online accounts. It goes without saying that if someone ever got hold of this crucial information, he could purchase tens of thousands of dollars worth of products and charge it all to my credit cards, plus clean out my bank accounts in a matter of minutes. So, obviously I will never disclose that my user name is billyd and my password is abc123.

Uh oh. I probably shouldn’t have typed that last sentence. Now, I have to disappear from all the creditors. I’d better contact Big Lou’s Discount House of Getting a New Identity and Dropping Off the Grid. Also, I might need some discount surplus military ordnance.

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