Opening my inbox on Tuesday, Mar. 27, was the e-mail equivalent of Christmas morning. And not just any Christmas.

It was moment like the stuff of December TV-commercial legend, where your loved ones lead you through the open front door and onto the snow-covered driveway to find a brand new car with an enormous red bow on top. And you don’t worry about the unmanageable insurance rates, the potentially damaging pressure that the bow is putting on your new moonroof or the soaring gas prices. The moment is too magical and the gift is too amazing for any of that.

This was the feeling, one of pure holiday exhilaration, I got as Firefox booted up my YaleMail and I saw the Spring Fling e-mail. Ricky Martin and Smashmouth were coming. For me, at least, Luda’s badass appeal would be nothing compared to the bar mitzvah-era nostalgia and bizarre gyrations that Ricky promised. I was ecstatic.

But it was all lies.

It was with a sadness I’d previously reserved for reading obituaries or Dostoevsky that I scrolled through YSAC’s scrambling “WAIT! That was a joke!” e-mails. I was temporarily crushed. Seeking solace in my usual way (Hanson recordings and Ashley’s soft-serve), I shook it off and steeled myself.

Two days later I awoke to find the next attack. Whoever these mass-mailing pranksters were, they were out for some serious blood. I kept the message in my inbox simply as a reference point for when the inevitable “OK, here’s the real deal” from the actual authorities arrived. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me, right?

This time I wasn’t buying. “Important: NetID Password Change Required.” Yeah right, silly e-criminals. At least the Spring Fling lie was plausible. This was pure ridiculousness.

But my worst fears were realized. This newspaper ran a front-page article. The posters popped up all through the residential colleges and computer clusters: “Make your password hrdr2kr@k.”

How much kr@k was ITS smoking?

Even now, writing these words, I’m practically hyperventilating as I think about changing my password. Punking the campus with broken promises of live versions of “Livin’ La Vida Loca” or that Monkees cover from “Shrek” was some kind of cruel. But actually asking me to change the code that I’ve used approximately eight jillion times is more than I can handle.

We’ve heard it many times: College is about finding ourselves. We’re only here for four years, but in that short span, we can change majors, music tastes, styles of clothing, residences, eating habits, social circles and even sexual orientation lots and lots of times. Our identities — no matter how clearly, concisely and impressively we defined them in our application essays — are in serious flux during our time as Yale undergrads.

There is, in fact, social pressure to experiment and redefine oneself; periodically updating your Facebook profile is an important art to master, and you’re not even in complete control of that, subject to wall posts and tagged photos from Friends.

In this crazy place, my NetID password is one of a precious few reminders of who I really am. It is stable, it is secret, and it is entirely my own creation. And now, if I don’t fuck with it by May 29, I’ll be “deactivated,” cut off from my cyber-lifeline and left to rot somewhere in the high-tech abyss.

Even seniors are not immune to this new mandate in the reign of tech-terror. Graduates, go ahead and pay your rent for Brooklyn apartments, assume jobs that you’ll hold for years to come, head off to grad schools all over the world. All of that, you can handle. But imagine going cold-turkey from before you even make it out of New Haven: You’ll have to try pretty hard not to panic as you realize that you’ve actually been thrust into the Real World.

I am so scared. What if I make something that I’m not comfortable with? What if I can’t remember the new one? I am already creating nightmare scenarios of being held in front of a computer at gunpoint (a la “Swordfish,” but minus the blow job) and being forced to log onto my Web mail … and I cannot access my account. All I can do is feebly type in the same password I’ve had forever, weeping at my certain death, wishing I could dash off a farewell message to my parents but knowing this is impossible because my new password is way 2hrd2kr@k.

Okay. Pull it together. Will I change my password? Clearly, yes. Will I be able to remember it eventually? Also yes. Will I be glad to feel more secure about my e-mail system? Alright, sure. But will I use my new NetID password to log into my Web mail to send messages to friends at other schools about how awesome our Spring Fling performers promise to be?

Well, that remains to be seen. (Come on, Menudo!)

Sarah Minkus’ new password is …