#11: Searchable list of all the mistakes
I have more than a decade old google account that I am no longer able to access even though I know the correct password. Google tells me that they don’t have enough information to verify me. It is asking me to log in from a device or wifi I have previously logged in with. How do they expect me to do that when I haven’t logged in for more than 7-8 years?
I made this Gmail account in high school, probably ‘05 or ‘06. And as was the trend at the time, my username was my first name followed by a cool (cringe) sounding adjective to project my personality. As I grew older, I abandoned this email id and made a new and more boring one to be accepted as a normal person.
However, my old email id was by then associated with many other now Google-owned services that I used, one of which was Blogger.com. I made quite a few blogspots back in the day, for the sake of it. Also to put Google Adsense ads to make some easy money. I copied articles from free-to-use online ezines and posted them on these blogspots.
This hustle is now very sophisticated and very expertly SEO-engineered. It's hard to tell whether the results that appear on a google search have actual content or are primarily made to serve you ads. Which reminds me of this tweet:
I hate this so much now and I am not proud that 15 years ago I was also trying to pollute the internet. And because I was so out of my depth, I didn’t make any money either. Luckily, the internet is a forgiving place and allows you a chance to grow and redeem yourself. 🙃
No, it’s not and I want to bury this dark past behind me and delete some of these blogspots associated with my account. It’s not that there was anything problematic in the content. The thing is, everything I published was crap. For instance, I had a blogspot on basketball tips and tricks even though I knew nothing about the sport.
There used to be a desi Blogger community on Orkut. People posted their blogspot address which was reviewed and rated by the next commenter and so on. I used to post my blogs a lot in that community for page views and some petty validation. Then one time, there was this guy who absolutely demolished me. He was so brutal and eloquent with his review of my blog that it broke me into pieces. It was my first experience of being publicly shamed online and it felt horrible. Thank fuck that Orkut does not exist anymore.
But some of my blogspots still do. And I can’t delete them because google won’t allow me to in spite of me knowing my login credentials. It’s weird because my email is my de-facto identity on the internet. Every service I sign up for requires an email. It is also the second-factor fallback for most apps when all other login mechanisms fail. So emails are essential and critical to function in a society that is increasingly becoming digital.
How can then an email service provider lock me out of my own account on its whim? I understand the security concerns with the ever-growing data breaches. But some of the restrictions that google enforces are ludicrous. Like asking me to complete several captchas because searching from a non-chrome browser is suspicious activity? And because it is a free service, there is no proper complaint redressal system or customer service either. They just don’t care.
In my opinion, primary email accounts should be treated as an essential public service and email service providers should be regulated as such. There needs to be a common set of standards and protocols for email service providers so that we are allowed to port our existing email accounts to other service providers if we wish to. Just like we’re allowed to switch our mobile service providers or website domain registrars.
For now, It looks like I have to live with the knowledge that these blogspots still exist. One of the bittersweet things about growing up on the internet is having a punishingly clear and searchable list of every mistake I have ever made. The only hope is that I never become famous enough for people to be interested in digging them up.
This makes me wonder, in some years will I want to get rid of these newsletters that I write? Will some of my takes on things not stand the test of time? It will be hard to bury them because these posts directly go to the inboxes of several people. Luckily, as my analytics suggest, most of you don’t read them anyway, so I should be in the clear!