It is no coincidence that Duolingo and Duo Security both start with “Duo,” as both are incredibly annoying.

My experience at Columbia’s Activities Day (the club fair) was overwhelmingly negative. Yes, its foulness was in part due to the relentless heat and proximity of tables. And I’m sure the never-ending crowds of people did nothing to subdue my distress. But, the true discomfort, my potential Joker origin story, stemmed from the chore of having to use Duo Security every time I wanted to fill out a Google Form. Logging in to my email meant going through the horror, the monstrosity, the annoyance that is Duo Security. To Duo Security, time does not exist; they do not understand what it means to be in a rush or why someone might want to quickly access their email. In fact, I am partly convinced that Duo Security only wants to slow you down when it is most inconvenient—like at the club fair.

So, there I was, my skin beaded with sweat, waiting for my silly email to load, so I could sign the general interset form for some unnecessarily serious finance club, only to be absolutely denied by Duo Security. I got dirty looks every which way, with eager finance-club hopefuls wondering why I couldn’t just scan the QR code and leave. Believe me, I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible; we were packed like sardines and the way out was becoming increasingly unclear. The entire fair triggered my fight or flight, but Duo Security only gave me one choice—well, actually two: “Call Me” or “Enter a Passcode.” 

Entering a passcode is never an option for me because I have no idea what “passcode” Duo Security is referring to. Allegedly, they are supposed to text this “passcode,” but my two-factor authentication never provides that option. Rather, I am forced to click “Call Me” and wait for a call from Clackamas, Oregon to come in, verifying that it is actually me logging in to any of my school accounts. 

To be honest, if some hacker really wants to log on to my portal where I register for classes and screw around with my schedule, let them! They probably have a better idea of what I should take than I do. I mean, it is not really any different from how I impulsively register for courses now. And, though somewhat sad, the only school emails I receive are from Cindy Meekins for the CS mailing list or updates on Dodge Fitness Center. Does Duo Security really need to protect these emails?

While I eventually made my way out of the club fair and got my name onto the general interest form, the problem of Duo Security remains. I will forever spend time waiting for that call from Clackamas, never knowing what all those seconds spent on Duo Security (and all the energy spent hating Duo Security) could have been used for if the security service never existed. Maybe I could have changed the world. (Or, at least, had time to get an iced coffee.) In the meantime, if you see someone blocking a booth at a fair or holding up a line, be kind; they, too, might be facing their very own Duo Security battle—God knows I am.

Duo Security via Barnard email login