Saturday, 2 July 2016

[ It's not paranoia if the monsters really are out to get you ]

It's password day. You all know this day; the day where all your devices start to send messages, starting with your phone, that there was an 'error' logging into an application. 

There was no error. The password needs resetting. Again. It's been 72 days and it's time to update your security in this minor way that may save you hassle later. 

Usually these messages come at the most inconvenient time possible, when there is no way you can get to a PC and sit down to change them. Admittedly, with half the applications they are mobile, so this isn't a drama, but the other half are easier to log into on a full screen with full functionality. And you're at a lunch meeting in the city for the next few hours. 


While you're all thinking that this is probably up at the heights of first world problems, let me explain something first. Something you probably already know.

I'm a tad paranoid. Ok, maybe a little more than that. A spiritualist with a healthy dose of skepticism and cynicism. 

Alright, dammit, a lot of skepticism. But only with some things. And, as I'm sure you've heard me intone; It's not paranoia if the monsters really are out to get you. 

And I'm pretty sure they are. Between credit card fraud, social media account hacking, false emails, money scams, romance scams, and anything else you can think of, I don't think I'm unjustified in my distrust. 

So, I change all my passwords regularly. I wish I could say not *everything*, but it is literally everything. Some passwords only get changed once or twice a year, but they do get changed. 

In order to truly understand the scope of this task, you need to know two things; exactly how many personal applications need to be changed, and the precise nature of my OCD. Both of which are epic and prodigious. 

In no particular order, yours truly has Facebook, multiple Instagrams, Twitter, Pinterest (a word I can't even say without correcting the grammar), LinkedIn, two Hotmail accounts, one Live account, one Gmail, four financial accounts - each with internal accounts, two phones, a laptop, a tablet, and a partridge in a pear an orchard with a gate that has a combination lock. Which needs changing every 72 days. 

You think that's ridiculous? We haven't even got to my OCD yet. 


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder runs intermittently in my family, along with a few other unfortunate but surprisingly useful conditions. I once met a cousin of my mothers' at a family gathering who collected whitegoods and (primarily) instruction pamphlets. Apparently he had up to twenty fridges scattered around his yard at any one time, and his garage was filled to the ceiling with random brochures for stuff he'd never buy, never use, or ever even seen. 

His poor wife used to despair, but dealt with the whole thing rather equanimiously for two reasons; one, this cousin mostly had it under control. He could get a little carried away, but it mainly stayed within the whitegoods and pamphlet department, and he was happily getting treatment which helped immensely. 

Two - and I suspect this is why a lot of people liked him - I've never met a more gently spoken, interesting and knowledgeable man in my life. We chatted for an hour about this amazing dairy farm nearby, how assembling furniture is all about precision, and this wonderful place that sold honey. It was brilliant. His OCD meant he had a memory like a whip and his general knowledge was astounding. 

OCD isn't a great thing to have. It makes you rigid and frustrated, and it can be hard to focus on more than one thing at a time. That being said, I've discovered that well-managed OCD can be used like a tool, and sometimes means you have better attention to detail than anyone else. 

This, thank the gods, is what my mild version is like; certain things get done in a certain way and there are no deviations. My attention to detail has scored me no less than half a dozen varying jobs over the years, and my ability to see something through to the very end - even when I'm not wholeheartedly committed to the cause itself - is truly extraordinary.


Back to the passwords. 

Some people would go about this task slowly and give themselves a few days to a week to get it all sorted. You know, because you want to make sure that you cover all devices and accounts, that they all match, or are in sequence, or are things you'll remember, etc. 

Not me. Oh, certainly with the matching/sequencing/choosing something I'll remember thing, absolutely. Not with the stretching it out over nearly a week. Mine has to be done now, in one hit, and consecutively. And deviance from this practise has a lifespan of 24 to 36 hours before I start to freak right out.

What if I forget the password I've created by a letter or two and reset it to one thing, thinking it's another? 

What if I miss a number in the sequence and set an account up with one number and then screw up the rest, therefore not remembering where in the sequence I went wrong?


This is not crazy; this is what happened to me post-op at the start of 2015. Try to imagine attempting to reset 16 passwords, anaesthetic still running through your system, and your recall ability limited to a 2 hour window. 

To say I was a little agitated is like saying a mastiff is a largish breed of dog. 

And so, like clockwork, I make sure that when the error messages start popping, I find a window of about an hour to just sit and reset everything. Methodically, systemically, painstakingly. 

Even if I have to do it from my mobile. Which is unbelievably time-consuming and irritating. 


Paranoia and OCD go hand-in-hand, it's whether you let them rule your thoughts or just colour them. For me, a good splash of colour never hurt anyone, and being a tad cautious means that I can take calculated risks and still feel adventurous. 

It's important to recognise when I'm going overboard and losing the plot, but it's also important to remember that this condition can be used like a tool, and a rather handy one at that. 

And on that note, I'll be sitting here on my phone like an antisocial cow for the next hour resetting everything I can feasibly get to. I will intersperse this random clicks on my keyboard at work so it sounds like I'm working, which I still am. Sort of. 


Ps. The fact that the government knows where I am at all times anyway isn't on my - or my OCD's - radar at the moment, but we'll fight those monsters when we get to them...

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