My Name is Brian and I Have an Identity Crisis

Yesterday’s mail included a notice from the local election board. They thanked me for casting my ballot in the recent primary but also issued a warning: “Unless I take corrective action, the election board will no longer be counting my vote.”

Our elections are via mail only and apparently the signature they have on file for me bore very little resemblance to the chicken-scratched name I scrawled on my ballot. My handwriting is jeopardizing my constitutional rights! Somewhere, Mrs. Moss, my 2nd grade teacher is wagging her finger in my direction and saying, “I told you so!”

Unfortunately, losing my identity is a common occurrence. I just took an inventory and lost count when I realized I have more than 150 separate identities. I have unique personas for Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Costco, Dropbox, Facebook, Google and iTunes, just to name a few you might be familiar with. My list of identities includes many other globally recognized names as well as local merchants, news agencies, and apps (including some great mobile health apps from T2 … check them out on this website!).

Each of these identities is protected by a password. Not just any password, but a STRONG password. The official definition of a strong password eludes me, but the net result is a concoction of letters, numbers, emoticons, etc. that is tougher to recall and recognize than my handwritten signature (take that election board!) Gone are the days when you could use something memorable like the name of your pet or even the names of your children … unless of course you had the foresight to spell the name of your first born like this: $t3v3n$m1tH

As for me, I have all but given up on even trying to remember my user IDs, never mind the passwords. Instead, I find it easier to lose my identities and then retrieve them by succumbing to the process of “challenge” questions: “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “Who was your 2nd grade teacher?”

Ironically, we here at T2 might be adding to your every growing list of identities. Fortunately, most of our apps and websites do not require you to identify yourself or to provide any personal identifying information: We take the protection of your identity and privacy seriously.

I could elaborate more, but I think you already can identify with me (lousy pun intended). Besides, I need to begin my own personal campaign. I think I’ll start by searching Facebook for Mrs. Moss to see what she charges for remedial handwriting lessons.

Brian Doherty is a Program Manager at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) where he coordinates the efforts of a team of software developers and graphic artists.  Brian leverages an extensive background in software development with Fortune 500 companies to develop iOS apps supporting the military community.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


Read other posts by Mr. Brian Doherty