Sunday, April 24, 2011

Just Go Google Yourself!

"Only in very, very dark moments, moments of pure self-loathing, do I type my name into Google." - Reese Witherspoon.

When was the last time you Googled yourself, your family, boyfriend/girlfriend, friends, or even your latest crush?   I ask, "when" rather than "have you ever", because we've all done it. We are curious to know what will come up. In this day and age, we Google everything.  In fact, to google is becoming an accepted English verb

I admit, I have Googled myself. My name is unique. Not many people spell my name the way I do. I was surprised to see just how much my name dominated the results. Apparently, I’m a very talented sports/travel photographer. However, don’t be fooled. While, I like photography, that isn’t me.  I used to not come up until the second page.  However, since starting my blog and joining Twitter, my search rank has increased. But I recommend checking out the other Caryn's stuff. She has an awesome portfolio. But do be careful not to get us confused. It appears she is on Facebook and Twitter too.  I also found someone with my name in Florida with a felony charge against her. I don't want to be mistaken for her!

I googled Mr. Boyfriend and he is MIA in the cyberworld. He is a CPA and not active online.  When he has more professional accomplishments or owns his own company, I think then he would want to be found. But for now, it is better for him to be under the radar. For this issue, I think career industry matters.  In media/technology fields - I think it is important that something (positive) appears in the search.  Is it important for accountants, garbage men, government workers to be found?  Is it always a good thing for individuals in all industries to be searchable? 

Everyone has an opinion these days and there is just so much negative out there.  Robert Downey Jr. loves Googling himself. At the Oscar roundtable this year, he said, "some people overstate their support, like they know you. Other people are busy doing something else and just want to go on this chat site and say some despicable character assassination..." If I were a celebrity I would be curious, but probably hesitant to search for myself.  Ultimately, I think I would only sporadically search myself.  The tabloids say some crazy stuff. 

If you don't Google yourself, someone else will - Reasons to Google yourself:

  • Professionally: Companies should Google their own Web site to identify and monitor any potential information that shouldn't be public.
  • It is important to Google yourself before you start applying for jobs so that you know what your potential employee might see. Because let's face it, there is a good chance that they'll Google you.
  • Personally: Never put anything personal, such as your social security number on a resume or on the Internet; not even temporarily.  It is scary when you find your own very specific personal information coming up. I have a huge problem with websites that advertise my address, phone number, family information and other private information without my consent. 
  • Any information you find online, can also be found by hackers. We cannot take Google for granted. We search for anything and everything and so can the bad guys. Criminals can easily access our information with just a simple search. The internet is a playground for crooks.
  • You might have filled out an online form and not realized the site was not as secured as it should be.
  • There may be more of you out there, and he/she might have been in trouble with the law. Check out this crazy story about a guy wanted for murder.
  • I read somewhere that you shouldn't stop after the first few search pages. Look at page 6 for the juicy stuff. (That's where I found my fellow Caryn with a felony charge.)
  • If you find there are duplicate you's - you can change your online persona from Bob Smith to Bob G. Smith to narrow the findings.

What to do if do you find unwanted personal information on the internet:

  • Try changing your username, sometimes this will change your results.
  • If you do find information about you on a Website you don't control, contact the site owners to remove that data immediately.
  • If the website will not remove it information, it is up to you to create and manage content on various other sites so that the undesired material will gradually fall lower and lower on the search results. But please note, this can be a slow process.

What happens when you Google yourself? Were you pleased or surprised by what came up?  If you were a celebrity, would you Google yourself? Please share!

Love, Caryn


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