I know it’s been said before that life wasn’t meant to be easy, but I think that was a phrase designed to cover cataclysmic life shifts not logging on. Exhausted by another password debacle, I sat in the Centrelink office in a cold sweat as their system asked me yet another secret question. “I don’t know, I can’t remember. What did I write about my first holiday, did I write the US or America? Will the system recognise the difference? Boom, there it is, “Temporarily Locked Out” flashing on the top of the screen like I’ve just committed cyber terrorism.
I’m reminded though that at the end of each screen I can access their translator and multi-linguistic services. Language is not my problem people, access is, and I wonder for a moment if I’m having trouble logging on, how many others are confused by this hefty sign-in process. Two hours into my phone call with the MyGov helpline, I admitted that this process had me close to tears. The bone-weary and vexed voice on the other end of the phone said she too was close to tears, we laughed that she might have to head off early on stress leave for the world of tech trouble we’d both landed in. If just one more service (I so wanted to add in an expletive here) asks me for my password, I might just pass out. I remember the good old days when it felt special to have a login, some exclusive code that gave you access to important information that only you and a few others had, but these days somebody somewhere is controlling access to every move we make.
I can’t find the phone number for any large service organisation to save myself, but if I just log on to their intuitive new website and follow the prompts, I can fill out a 20 step questionnaire and request for information that will simply disappear into the ether. Here’s a novel marketing idea for big business; bring back people, bring back service, bring back listening. People like people and no, I am not a robot so I don’t want to talk to one. I’d like to walk out of a furniture store with what I walked in for; a piece of furniture. Not three oddly shaped flatpacks that I have little desire to carry and even less to build. Ok, IKEA made a household name out of do-it-yourself but they’re Swedish and we thought it was hip, but is there nowhere that I don’t have to go it alone? I’m tired of following prompts.
When the book 1984 was a part of our future, and incidentally, so was Buck Rogers, there was a groundswell of fear that as we reached into the new millennium we would have surrendered all free will to a higher corporate power, well we’ve done it. This permission-based order is building higher walls around us all. We are owned, controlled and denied. But that’s all a bit heavy, so I’ve decided to head out for some homeware retail therapy. I popped into a store where, in the absence of my loyalty card, they asked if I wanted to log on; at the flooring showroom they advised I’d need approval from strata before even requesting a quote and when I couldn’t find my coffee loyalty card, no problem, I could download an App and scan a QR-code. Well, I would, if only I could remember my password…