Sunday, December 11, 2005

How do you solve a problem like google?

A few months ago, I went on a date and over lunch, the guy asked me casually, "So, you knew so and so?"

My heart completely stopped. He was referring to a good friend of mine from college who had died of cancer. For a moment, I was estatic. He knew her name, he must have either known her in person, or read some of her sports stories in the newspaper, and if nothing else, we could swap stories. I remember leaning forward and asking, "How do you know her?"

And he shrugged. "I don't. I just saw her name somewhere and thought you might know her."

And in that moment, I knew he had googled me, that he had found the memorial site for my friend, and had read the piece I'd written about her there. I was crushed and he quickly moved on to another subject.

Looking back, I know he exhibited a lack of social graces and tact. There's nothing wrong with googling someone; he just picked the wrong thing to ask me about. I never asked him if he had googled me, and I never told him that I googled him. But ever since that incident, I've felt uneasy over the whole subject of googling. When meeting someone new, it's nice to get the intelligence, but at the same time, how do you use that information? I'm not sure I'd ever bring it up in a conversational setting.

The other thing is this blog. This blog will be five years old in January. I've been blogging since before blogging was cool, before I knew what I was doing or what the consequences of having a blog could be. That means there are five years worth of stuff people can read about me, and the five-year old in me thinks that's unfair. I think this also stems from my misplaced belief that this blog only has five readers and I know who you all are, and I think of this space more as a 'reading corner' for a few people, rather than the much wider audience that troops through here every day.

I can't solve the blog problem without stopping the blog, and that's not going to happen. I've resolved to think of it as a "Hey, this is me" snapshot at any given moment in time, and while it's never a complete picture of what I'm thinking of, what is here is honest and in my voice. So, my attitude really should be: "Take me or leave me." Still, it's not easy to reconcile.

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