Maybe you like to play a certain game online but you can’t enter the game room until you prove that you’re a human.  Yes, that is the criteria.  It is like peeking into a small round window in the door of a 1920’s saloon and telling a goon “God sent me.”

The goon in this case is Captcha.  Wikipedia says that Captcha is a contrived acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart.  Honest.  I’m not kidding.  But to me Captcha sounds a little like Gotcha.

So when you sign into your game room, with your password of course, letters and numbers pop up and you must type them into another box.  Apparently typing is something a computer can’t do.  So here’s where we sort the men from the boys . . or the real people from the wannabees.  And your high school record of 100 words per minute (errors discounted) does not impress.  There can be no errors.  If you type it wrong the door slams shut and you feel like a contestant on the Gong Show.

If you can’t do anything else in your whole life you can at least be human.  If you fail that test, well heaven knows what comes next.

But let me tell you why it’s a hard test to pass.  Sometimes the letters and numbers that pop up are all different sizes and they overlap or look like they’ve been smashed by an anvil so that a 2 looks like an S (or is it a Z?) and c followed by an I makes a d, or an I followed by a 3 looks like a B . . or is it 13?  Who knows?  Three or four tries, maybe seven, and the door finally opens.  You’re in.

It makes you feel shady, but at least you know you’re still human.

Now about the other jokers who line up to share your monitor’s screen, there are many.  I think we’ve finally gotten rid of the little paper clip guy . . you know, Mr. Clippit, who used to pop up in the corner of your screen and say “It looks like you are writing a letter,” and you said, “Well, duh.”  He had no idea what you were doing.  He was like a two-year old who wants to help you make pancakes.

So we put him away, but I used to think Clippit may be an omen of Big Brother or otherworldly things to come.  I could see him morphing into a Hal, popping up to say “It looks like you are writing a dirty joke.  May I clean it up for you?” or “It looks like you are writing a recipe.  Can I stay for dinner?” or “It looks like you are wiring money from your bank account.  I will complete the transaction for you.”

Uh huh.  We are not so dumb, you know.  We are humans and we can prove it.

But now you will have companies or individuals popping up on your screen wanting to manage your debt, consolidate it, eliminate it.  Or, if you like being in debt, they will loan you more money to squander.  There are those who offer cheap drugs, failproof diets, a harmonious mate and a prolonged and perfect sex life.  LOL.  I repeat, LOL.

Computers are wonderful.  They bring the world to us.  And they teach us how to keep the world out.  Just download a  tech goon or two to watch your door so no one gets in . . unless they can prove they are humans listed in your book of life.

– Doris Markland

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