Password Protected

I can't manage my passwords because of the inscrutable infinity of the digital realm, but I've realized that necessity is the key.


1/27/20242 min read

Doors opening onto a hallway in an abandoned. building
Doors opening onto a hallway in an abandoned. building

Remembering passwords has always been one of my practical struggles that is also a bane of my Internet life. Lately, I've come to let the ebb and flow of my ability to remember password dictate my moment-by-moment focus. I have patterns that I hold close to my heart, hoping that they will help me consistently and efficiently reset passwords when I need to, if not to remember them.

My patterns are pretty good. They simply fail to address the problem.

All my doors are locked. I can can carry around a drill set, hoping that bearing all the weight and inconvenience of this burden will allow me to replace any forgotten locks I might encounter in the day. I might try to study and practice to improve my locksmithing skills to facilitate this work, in order for the occasions in which I need to re-open a forgotten door to be more graceful and efficient. Theoretically, I might even multi-class in thievery to level up my lockpicking ability. But all of this doesn't count for much when the fact remains that I can't figure out how to carry the keys I need to open the doors I need.

Except... I literally succeed in that task every day. I never lose my actual physical keys. The seriousness of keeping track of them has lead me to develop careful practices, habits, and even systems that allow me to reliably know where they are at all times.

Why can't I do the same for virtual passwords?

There are several reasons:

  • My passwords greatly outnumber my physical keys, even though they are not united as one pragmatic unit through the sophisticated technology of the key-ring.

  • Passwords are changed more often than physical locks and keys.

  • My physical keys are given to me without the necessity or opportunity for me to create them, define them, or analyze them.

  • Passwords are part of the vast possibility set of the information world that has always been my playground and true frontier, as I am Millennial whose consciousness was formed by the idea that there is a digital realm accessible at my fingertips, if only I could unlock it.

None of these explains my stubborn unwillingness to choose a straightforward way to manage my digital passwords. Considerations of security and third-party implementation of decryption have probably been answered sufficiently by tech researchers I respect. I've seen their headlines and social media posts, urging nerds like me to stop trying to remember passwords and just use a password manager. I've never taken the time to adopt such a solution, though I've of course wasted so much time.

I experience the wasted time as an unquantifiable weight. The heaviness of the struggle has little to do with the actual difficulty of managing passwords and the persistent struggle to unlock the conceptual doors in my life, to go where I should go and do what I should do.

I'm probably not going to adopt a password manager. I dislike the idea of my passwords being tied to a device for two factor authentication. I'll probably just write them down in a little notepad, which can go with me where it needs to go.

I think that needing is the key.

Image credit: SIFotografie, from Pixabay