Google Yourself

I gave this instruction recently to a group of novice Internet users and their reactions reminded me of the sense of titillation and awe I felt "my first time." Around ten years ago, it occurred to me to find out if I were searchable. When I first googled myself (ironically, to do what is now considered a verb–to google–I used Yahoo!) and saw my name, I felt important and excited. I was available to be known by the whole world.

In his first-of-the-year blog post, business and marketing expert Seth Godin urges his readers to google themselves. His point? Sales prospects, prospective employers, and co-workers are already doing it. He adds, "If you don’t like it, you can fix it."

When I suggested to the novice Internet users that they use Google to search for someone else, I heard outrage. "That’s spying!" "That’s no one’s business!"

I also remembered my unease when I first googled someone.  Since I hadn’t asked for permission, I felt as if I were a child peeking in my parents’ dresser drawers when they were away.  Yes, we were a family and, yes, the drawers were unlocked.  Still, what was in them was theirs, not mine.

Some of the group members were silent. I knew why. They had already googled someone.

A Roanoke Times article posted during mid-2007 quotes Marisa Sano, recruiter for local company Mailtrust, (formally Webmail.us): "I check everything I can. If you have something on the Internet, if you have a blog or a MySpace page, it’s fair game and it’s going to be checked."

Is googling someone no one’s business?  Is it peeping in their closets?  Is it fair game?

Regardless of one’s philosophical position on these questions, the Internet makes us known to the whole world.

Google creates a search results resume for us that we might or might not have created for ourselves.

The odds are good that a potential venture capitalist, angel investor, vendor, partner, employee, and customer is googling us right now.

Let’s see what they see.

Comments

  1. Alex Edelman says:

    I've Googled myself many times (which hasn't produced much, given that there are other people out there named Alex Edelman, so the first page of results has nothing to do with me), and I've Googled many of my friends. I don't think there's anything personal about it. The things that Google digs up were released to public view whenever they were first posted somewhere on a Google-indexed website on the internet. That was the time to ask for permission. Now, it's out there, and others are looking, so the only thing to do is to go out and fix it.

  2. Anne Clelland says:

    You bring up an important distinction–what we post vs. what's posted about us. I can control what I post but I can't control what others post. I've had a web site a long time and have used it for both business and personal purposes–descriptions of my businesses, resumes for prospective clients and employers, an unlinked page with directions to my house for friends, pictures of my cat. If I knew then what I know now about how public my private links are, I may or may not have posted them.

    That's one side. On the other side, my Google results include references to events or activities ten years old. My former names are there, several times misspelled. A .pdf from a place where I have attended spiritual services is listed as well. Do I really care? Not so much. But for many who google me, we've never met. I would like to respectfully present myself formally. If trust develops, we can share more personally.

    Something about Google results remind me of shorts, a tank top, and flip-flops. I wear them, but not to an interview.

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