Password Requirements

Nathan Deuel

Your password must contain at least one number.

It’s a bad idea to put a 1 after a typical word or phrase. Awesome1, for instance, is not awesome, nor is it accurate. Killme2 is a weak password.

Password should contain at least one lower case letter.

Password should be between 6 and 20 characters, which is long, or much longer, we suppose, than some of us can imagine, or that many of us need. Perhaps your version of safety requires even more characters? We do not yet know.

Password should not include your phone number, an email address, the same as your user name, or a name you use only with your closest friends, or indeed, the name of your child, or the child you do not yet have, or perhaps the child you will never have, nor the name of that girlfriend you can’t quite find yet on Facebook, perhaps she has a new last name? In any case, don’t use her name either — or that cutesy thing she used to call you in Chicago — you should just move on. It’s over.

Password shouldn’t include too many special characters, such as $ or ? or WTF, because why are you bothering, for instance, to attempt to set a password for your dormant, underused frequent flyer account anyway? You barely travel, except for various hungover flights from that dreadful Marine Terminal at LaGuardia — a swampy, metallic building, with all the water bugs and an old guy named Marty who was employee of the month but the airline magazine photo editors couldn’t get their shit together soon enough to take a decent photo of the guy, just a blurry snapshot of an old man bending over a suitcase, thinning hair and a smile with too much gum — and you, seeking to establish a password, merely take a flight from that terminal every few years to fly back to Illinois, to visit the relatives down-state, but really you wish you could just stay in grey Chicago, riding the train around the lake, trying to remember what went wrong. Perhaps, with enough miles, if you got your shit together, you could fly somewhere weird and international, like on Air Iberia or Fly Saudi or Jet North Korea, but alas, all you can manage is to sign up finally up for some frequent flyer miles, which is actually a process that is in doubt — because first you still need a sufficient password — and after that, you might finally redeem that flight from last January. Actually, no. Flight credits expire 12 months from the ticketed date. Too late. Give it up. Someone will steal them anyway.

Password should contain at least one upper case letter.

Password must be written by you.

Password doesn’t care if you aren’t who you want to be, or if you don’t fly often enough, or if you forget to claim your credits or comb your hair or call your mom or get a wife or a decent job or care much about anything.

Password will open doors to you that were previously closed.

If you do it right, your password will be yours alone.

A good password is forever.

Until you change it in four weeks, which is what we recommend.

Nathan Deuel lives in Beirut and is an M.F.A. candidate at the University of Tampa. He has written essays for The New York Times, GQ, Salon, Slate, The Awl, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. Previously, he was an editor at Rolling Stone and the Village Voice.