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Monday, April 3 12:00 AM ET

Google Yourself At Your Own Risk

Googling Your Own Name Can Be A Soul "Searching" Experience By Dale Tudge

ONLINE - There is an online activity where you can look yourself up on the Internet using a search engine. It's often known as self-Googling, personal Googling, or egosurfing. Others call it "personal brand management." But whatever names you put to these keyword phrases, the results of enquiring after your own online popularity can be detrimental to your self-esteem.

If you try to Google yourself, you might be shocked at the results.

It sounds a little narcissistic to want to find out what the world thinks of you, but self googling is actually more than an attempt to stroke your own ego--it is a legitimate method of measuring your "public face."

But while it's natural to be curious how your identity has propagated on the World Wide Web, you may not be happy with the results offered up by these powerful, all-knowing search engines.

Self-Googling is easy to do. Just type your own name into a search engine box on Google, Yahoo, or MSN, click on the search button, and wait for the results.

It's fair to assume that if your name is Bob Smith, Bob Jones, or Bob Johnson, the forthcoming returns from the Great Google will not entirely be your own. It's very likely that a second Bob Smith exists somewhere in the world and he might be the one who invented flavored antifreeze, finished 29th in the 3-mile run in 1997 in Oskegon, Illinois, or was charged with raping that performance artist in the park. Who knew that a mime could scream? But you should be cautious. Google self-search results can often lead to depression and anxiety. Yes, you may find that someone has put in a good word about you on their local blog, or you might show up on a high school online honor roll, but there's a good chance that there will be no results for your search. Zero. Not even with alternate spellings for your name. That might be more depressing than finding out your ex-girlfriend posted stories about your "shortcomings" on her personal website. At least that proved you had a girlfriend.

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You're taking a big chance when you send in your own self-identifying search request. Like the time in grade school when your class made construction paper Valentine's Day mailboxes, and your heart-strewn box was still empty at the end of the day. Or that night at your company's silent bachelor auction when there wasn't a single bid placed on your nearly-buff body. Even Gus, the 68-year-old janitor with the wandering eye who smelled like cats earned $16.70 for his withered, old man flesh. Do you really want to put yourself through that again?

If you do decide to look yourself up, and even if there are a few hits, it's not going to make you feel much better if most of them are from your mom's blog, and she makes references your bedroom bladder problems. It was even worse than when you typed in your mom's name and all those fetish websites showed up.

No, it's probably far better that you refrain from entering your name into that search box, despite the curious temptations. You're better off holding on to the remote possibility that there exists countless Internet forums dedicated to your too-numerous-to-count sexual exploits, or that you might be a source of world gossip because of last year's affair with Angelina Jolie (the 47-year-old cafeteria lunch-lady with the chin whiskers, not the sexy celebrity).

This article has be reprinted with permission from The Toque.

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