PIN, codes, passwords. I forget the numbers because there are too many

Amnesia at the ATM when entering the PIN code? On my example, I discovered that it is not just the affliction of the elderly.

photo: Maciej Kosycarz / KFP

Recently, in front of an ATM, I forgot, in theory, a simple four-digit PIN code for a debit card. I was a little scared. When the amnesia wore off after minutes, after hours, the thought came that maybe the numbers, numbers and codes we need to remember are just too many.

I was born in the mid-1980s. I remember landlines and notebooks with numbers written down. Because it was impossible to do it on camera. And certainly not in rotary phones. Later came those with buttons that had the so-called memory function, so it was a bit easier.

At the time, many phone numbers were memorized. The most important ones stayed in your head in case you needed to log on, because communicators were only supposed to make life easier.

TV channel numbers: once from memory, today from screen

It was the same with TV channels. When cable television arrived, the numbers of the most-watched stations on the simpler early set-top boxes rather stuck in memory. It was similar with teletext page numbers (the internet on the TV, which had their numbers instead of page addresses. So if anyone was looking for an explanation). As the channels and therefore the numbers to remember started coming in, the problem started. Future improvements, because the decoders have changed and now you can see everything on the screen.

Only that apart from telephones and television channels, electronics began to appear more and more in our lives, and there were more and more number combinations.

I remember my GG number

Everyone has used the GG before, but hardly anyone remembers its number to this day.  I remember.

Everyone has used the GG before, but hardly anyone remembers its number to this day. I remember.

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Let’s take the first example – the messenger Gadu Gadu. How many times when trying to connect to the Gadu Gadu communicator did I have to retrieve the number? Another thing is that it was one of those numbers that was imprinted in memory and remained there to this day, although I haven’t used the communicator for a long time. Maybe because it was an important number for me at the time. Now there are more important numbers and figures.

The next step in the “digital revolution” was the replacement of intercoms in the cages of multi-family buildings. Push buttons were replaced with numbers, and each was given an apartment code that had to be memorized. Finally, unless the resident prefers to take out the key or call people at home every time. I preferred to remember it, although sometimes, like with a pin code in front of an ATM, it could suddenly escape me.

Along the way, there have been, for example, inventions such as bicycle locks with a code, or arming and disarming alarms in office premises, for which you need numbers, that it is better not to write on a piece of paper.

What number do they live under?  Do you remember the code?  Classic questions in front of the intercom.

What number do they live under? Do you remember the code? Classic questions in front of the intercom.

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Currently, almost everything can be done online. Only for this you need a good memory, because there are a lot of numbers, codes and combinations needed to work. Bank PIN, telephone PIN, customer numbers for connecting to various institutions, identification number, PESEL number.

Phew… A lot. And yet there are still elements that I mentioned earlier, such as the intercom code, or the bike lock code, and passwords without which the computer will not do much .

Worth it for brain hygiene, but not overdone

Of course, I know people who do it very well. In fact, they know their bank account number by heart, which I consider to be the highest level in the category of memorizing a string of numbers.

I don’t think I will race in this category myself. Although such memorization is a good exercise to keep the brain fit for years. On the other hand, in the multitude of information that we have to deal with on a daily basis, the lack of memory, for example, the identification number or the code of Dad’s intercom, will probably not disqualify my memory.

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