Imagining the Incognito Window

The other day, I was having trouble logging into the Radical Joy for Hard Times on-line Quickbooks account, so I called the support number. After helping me, the tech person suggested that the next time I logged on, I should use an “incognito window.”

An incognito window! Immediately I was intrigued. “What’s an incognito window?” I asked.

She told me it’s a way of logging in to a website that instantly erases your browsing history. It would be useful in this case, because my previous efforts to log in would be inaccessible, and I could start the process afresh. I tried it and it worked.

Still curious, I googled incognito window. Turns out it’s a useful tool if you’re sharing a computer with your partner and want to do some on-line birthday shopping without leaving a trail of the enticing presents you’ve been considering and hence giving away the surprise. With an incognito window you can check your social own media sites to see what other people see when they view your page. Or you can google yourself to find out what others see when they google you. Some people use it to look at porn without anyone finding out.

But the phrase “incognito window” is so evocative. What do you picture when you hear the term? I imagine myself staring out a special kind of window, perhaps from a second-story flat in Amsterdam or Brussels, and being invisible to those on the street. Or maybe a person who stands in an incognito window looks entirely different than they usually do. Maybe a  middle-aged white woman would look like a young Latino to anyone who happened to glance in. Maybe someone framed in an incognito window would turn into a superhero or a version of themselves in a different time period or their own avatar.

Or maybe it’s the world that looks different when I view it from an incognito window. At any rate, I think we all need at least one in our homes.

(Painting above: Woman at Window by Eastman Johnson)



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