We spend a lot of time protecting, or worrying about protecting, our identity these days. Just what we are protecting it from, I am not entirely sure but it seems to absorb a lot of our energy. We memorize exotic codes, we shred everything in sight and we can barely dare to whisper our social security number out loud.
I have come to accept that my identity is out there and there not too much I can do about it. Once I decided it was okay to give my credit card to that scary cashier with all of the tattoos, I came to realize that any pretense of my hiding vital information in today’s world is an exercise in futility.
Oh, I know, identity theft can be a truly horrible thing…or so I’ve heard. But does anyone really know anyone who has truly suffered from it? I don’t. Not even close. I know hundreds, maybe thousands, of people that have suffered from things like cancer, heart problems, depression, disease, paralysis and even Super Bowl loses. But I really do not personally know anyone who has really suffered as a result of identity theft. Okay, maybe their email account got hacked once or twice, leading to messages they had to explain. Inconvenient? Yes; but tragic? I don’t think so.
I am all for keeping my identify safe and cozy if I can do it without losing my soul. But I refuse to spend endless hours worrying about some virtual boogey man that really does not even deserve a spot on my Top 100 dangers list.
Of course, if identity can be fully protected with little cost, no problem. But, what is the price we should be prepared to pay to keep our identity out of the hands of potential scoundrels?
I draw the line at connections. I think connecting with human beings is our life purpose. Any act of identity theft that blocks my path to better human connections is worthy of great scrutiny in my world. I have observed lonely and sad people seal themselves from our modern world, under the guise of protecting their identity and I wonder; to what end? Someday, we will all pass on to something else. When we near that point, will we care, looking back, whether our identity was fully secured? Not me.
I have sometimes joked about taking out an ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that includes my social security number, my credit card numbers, all of my passwords and pin numbers and my mother’s maiden name. Would that be brave or foolish? No doubt it would be a bit crazy, but I doubt it would be as nearly as crazy as the risks that I see people take every day; (i.e. riding a motorcycle without a helmet, driving a car while texting, ignoring basic diet advice, climbing mountains).
The point of all this, (other than taking off on a somewhat whimsical rant), is that we worry way too much; and that our worries are disproportionately focused on the things that grab our attention. We are surrounded by messages that reinforce our growing identity phobia, largely fueled by sensationalized media outlets that know how well fear sells, so our continuous efforts to stoke the coals of our latent anxieties. I say it is time to relax. My virtual identity will be fine. Time to take care of my real identity. (Just make sure you shred this newsletter when you are done reading it.)