Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Have you ever Googled yourself? I strongly recommend it. Go ahead, just for fun: put your name in the Google search engine. I'll wait.

Wasn't that educational? What did you learn about yourself? Trust me, there's something you did that you've forgotten — but the Internet hasn't.

There's always been something around similar to the Internet, previously referred to as "the people who will mention to your grandmother what you've been up to — so watch it!" The Internet is just the most modern tool to remind you of your human foibles.

I learned a few things about myself when Googled — things I wouldn't think would be public, and yet manage to pop up on the World Wide Web. Thankfully, my grandmother was aware of them all, such as my athletic activities, as well as my intellectual pursuits and community presence.

First of all, I used to complain about my running times a decade or so ago. What was I thinking? According to the race times, I wasn't that terrible. These days, I'd dance a jig if I could claim those times. Even the slow ones from the last decade are far cooler than those I have clocked lately. Oh, the speed of youth.

Then there was my presence in social networking and communication sites. I joined a couple of those sites because I was advised to do so by people more savvy than I — and garnered a couple more hits on the Web as a result. (I also get to have regular conversations with Valerie, which is the real reason I signed up in the first place). Thankfully, I've treated these as though my stepchildren could see them — which they can — so aside from evidence of a few bad hair days, there's (hopefully) little cringe-worthy material on there.

I knew I was not alone, but the Internet provides a nice reminder of this fact. I was re-introduced to a person of the same name in London (medical services, a laudable field) and as a public safety official in Pennsylvania.

Incidental uses of my name came up in ways I never expected. I am identified as a poetry lover on the BBC Web site — in a conversation I participated in nine years ago. I Tweet. I Flickr. My foray into British hedgehogs is featured in at least two feature articles across the pond. And who knew my family name could be used for such (blush) interesting acronyms?

Then there was me. Lots of me. Real me. Of course, being a member of my alumni association and condominium board of directors, as well as spokesperson for at least one popular public annual event, has the result of putting one in the limelight.

Mostly, I'm identified through my profession and the very public nature of my work activities. (Yes, I'm a rock star. And you thought you knew me!) I am grateful to know my profile is respectable enough to keep me from blushing too brightly in the spotlight.

Fortunately, there are no YouTube videos of me practicing any Miss South Carolina-esque faux pas. (That is, of which I am aware — though in my youth, we shunned those newfangled "lightbox" contraptions because the little painters in them were thought to capture our souls.)

In the end, the Internet proves the old axiom that remains as true in my dotterage as it did in my youth: all you have is your name and your reputation, so don't do anything that would embarrass your grandmother. If you ever forget that fact, the Internet is there to remind you — and in a very public way.

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