Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lifting the veil

I recently figured out who someone I only know from the Internet is in real life. I don't consider myself a stalker type and would never dream of outing anyone against their will, but I couldn't resist the temptation of Google. What happened was that I was immensely impressed by this persons accomplishments and while that was not surprising given what I already knew about this persons alter ego, I think my reaction was somewhat surprising. I was not only impressed but also immediately felt that this person was completely out of my league and I would never be able to compete with someone so succesful. Up until that minute I knew that this person experienced the same struggles as I do and that was exactly the reason in the first place for both of us being in this particular Internet forum. Why is it that as soon as people get a name and a face and a CV I suddenly think they are unapproachable, scarily successful and dealing with everything in a much more elegant way than I do, while I am convinced they are just like me despite all successes as long as they present themselves as an avatar with a fantasy name? Isn't that a little sad?

I sometimes give away my real email or my real name and location to people I've connected with in the blogosphere or internetfora. I almost expect people to google me if they get hold of my name by chance (not because I'm hugely interesting, but because Google is a huge temptation for the curious mind). But I never thought about how getting access to my real life info could change anybodys perception of me (it is really quite harmless, I have never been a sumo wrestler or anything really surprising).



At 4:52 AM, Blogger Kisha said...

Interesting. I've never thought of some one actually wanting to google me before. That makes me nervous because I am afraid that people couldn't tell the difference between the "real" me and others with the exact same name. (Some people think my name is really unique but it actually is quite common).

At 9:27 PM, Blogger saxifraga said...

That's a good point. I don't know how often that would happen, but it's probably a possibility if someone has very little information about a person. On the other hand, when you have enough information to easily find someone on google (say full name and institution or real email) it's easier to sort the real person from others.

I don't know how often other people use Google for finding someone. Maybe it's just me. That makes me feel a bit bad about myself. Maybe it's against good internet behaviour. I'm not sure.

As an aside, I don't blog in my own name because I don't want people I know to find the blog if they google my real name, but I don't mind if "strangers" who I've talked to in blog comments or by email finds my real identity. My blog "persona" is pretty much identical to the real me, I think.


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