I wonder how these two words make you feel. They have been known to strike dread in the heart, to cause sweaty palms and instant memory loss. To name but three. The many online places where we choose to log in these days do not help the situation. Personally, I have email, Twitter, Facebook, a photography website or three, access to my utilities bills, online banking (with more than one bank) and some other places where I only log in occasionally. I am sure there are more; I just can’t recall what they are right now. Mostly, I use the same username and password. Oh dear, now I’ll have to go and shoot myself. No, not really. But I have a limited range of passwords, to match my rapidly declining memory powers.
Quite often, my username is actually my email address. Or the first part - before the @ - of my email address. But there is never a clue as to which it will be. I generally type in what I think it is and hope for the best. Mostly, I get it right. But, ask me what my online banking number is, actually ask me to tell you it, without the box in front of me on the screen, into which I can type it, and I am stumped. (Not that I would actually tell you it of course, this is all theoretical thinking.) Completely stumped. Well, not quite completely. I know that there are two zeros in it somewhere, or maybe even two sets of two zeros, but my brain does not seem to be capable of producing the goods without the prompt of an empty box on a screen.
I wonder if I should be worried about this. I wonder if anyone else worries about this. Is there a sort of Pavlovian response by the brain to the on-screen prompt? I suppose there must be. And since I log into many sites every day, it is actually more likely to be muscle memory (those of my fingers rather than my brain) which is coming into play. In the same way that my fingers “remember” where to place themselves on the frets for the tunes I play on the mandolin (sometimes). I don’t consciously think about each note, about what comes next. If I start doing that, I trip and stumble. And fall. It’s the same with remembering usernames and passwords, I think. Don’t think too hard about it. It’s a bit like looking directly at a star – you see it better if you look slightly off to the side. Or trying to solve a crossword clue – let your brain relax and go off at a tangent. Which seems to come quite easily to me, somehow.