Why you shouldn’t Google yourself

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googling oneself

I didn’t mean to.

It just sort of happened.

I was perusing the usual tabs this morning in an attempt to see how everyone’s day will be better than mine, (I’m moving today) and I came across an interesting article referencing a story I worked on many years ago as a reporter at The Oregonian.

After reading the sad story, I wanted to go find my original story, so I Googled Tim Akimoff, Oregon State Hospital, Urns.

In and of itself, that search is fairly tame. I learned not to search for things like Tim Akimoff, scarification or other such search terms that lead me down very depressing pathways filled with haters and trolls.

However, I haven’t done a search on my name in several years, so when the results started filling up the page, I couldn’t help but notice all these places where I’m quoted, Mashable articles that feature something I Tweeted and interviews I’ve conducted with many journalism students over the years.

Googleing yourself is a black hole from which it is nearly impossible to escape. Not to mention the fact that when you go in, there is no air, and everything collapses on its own weight. Or however the physics of it all work.

My point is that it’s a dark place you should avoid at all costs.

Early in my career, I tried to maintain an idea of what I said and what was being said about me. After two jobs at two different newspapers in two different states, I stopped checking.

Mostly because it’s really not that exciting, and people don’t seem to care a whole lot.

There was the incident in Montana where when I was laid off from the newspaper there, I said some fairly controversial things about the captains of industry running newspapers at the time.

Yes, it cost me more than a few jobs I had my eye on, but it faded into oblivion more quickly than I even thought it would.

The problem with Googling yourself is context, or lack thereof.

Sure there were some nice things said about me, about my journalism, my writing style, my sense of adventure.

And it felt good to read those things, so I kept clicking.

The good stuff buried out there is like crack. You feel like you need more of it, even when one compliment is enough to make your day.

So you keep scrolling, keep opening old articles, searching for positive references of your name.

The problem is that these broken snippets and dead-end hallways lack the context necessary to develop a full picture of anything.

I found a half-dozen interviews I’ve conducted with journalism students over the last few years. Aside from being journalism students learning the fine art and craft of writing interviews, there is the problem of my not knowing when or how they would publish my words.

The lack of context is astounding and a little frightening when I think of what anyone else Googling me might think.

This should not reflect poorly on the j-school students. As I said, they’re learning the craft. And I love helping them out.

The problem with ego surfing is you want to explain yourself, but these are the dead soldiers of the Internet.

You maybe try to leave a comment on some students blog where they took you out of context, but its a dead link. That student moved on, but their college body of work is left behind for every future employer to find.

I know more than a few reporters who make a daily practice of Googling themselves. And I don’t blame them. Sometimes you need to keep your Internet personal tidy. It’s also great for interacting with people if you stay up with it.

But I won’t be making another foray into that hot mess that is my Internet persona any time in the near future.

No, I think I’ll wait another 5 or 6 years before I wade into those murky waters again.



One thought on “Why you shouldn’t Google yourself”

  1. “The problem with ego surfing is you want to explain yourself, but these are the dead soldiers of the Internet.”

    so true. I googled my daughters name only to find out someone was using it to post hateful posts, and also found inaccurate descriptions of my daughter . My attempts to have the posts removed got nowhere. Just frustrating and infuriating. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

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