Proliferation

Proliferation: to grow by rapid production of new parts, cells, buds, or offspring; to reproduce freely.

Proliferation was on my mind today as I forced myself to face my garden, where the weeds have been having their annual spring fling. The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the healthiest weeds I’ve ever seen. Dandelions are unusually vigorous this year – I’ve seen plants a foot tall, with a dozen huge cheery blooms from one deep root. Those spots of golden sunshine will soon be hundreds of tiny airborne seeds. Prevention by early digging is the key. I’m late.

Back inside, I discovered proliferation in the virtual realm:
I Googled myself.

Talk about reproducing freely!

The last time I looked myself up was maybe two years ago. Since then the search engine has found me in corners so dusty I’ve long forgotten them.

My current name, which I’ve had since 1982, has eight pages of listings. Of course some of those are for other people with the same name, and many of them are repeat versions of one or another thing I did or wrote or said in relatively public venues, but a surprising number are from sources that I had no idea would find their way to a Google search: a mass email address update from an acquaintance in 2001; comments I’ve made on someone else’s blog; contributions I made to political campaigns; annual reports from agencies where I’ve served on the board or some such.

So then I Googled my maiden name, a name I left behind in 1967. There were even a couple of entries there.

And I’m just a regular gal with a variety of interests. It’s troubling to discover how many threads of my life are out there for the world to follow (if they were so inclined). A private eye would find me in about two minutes.

How does one get rid of unwanted Google listings??? Or keep out of Google’s eye in the first place?

It must be possible, because recently I hit several brick walls when trying to track down a couple of high school classmates to invite them to a reunion. They were both fairly well-known in their fields; both men (so they didn’t lose their last names to marriage). One had a name that was so common as to be impossible to figure out which, if any, was the right one. The other simply wasn’t to be found.

I hate to stop doing anything public just because it adds to my already dubious dossier – what to do?

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2 responses to “Proliferation

  1. I’ve thought about this as well… long gone are the days of relative anonymity. Before we know it, presidential candidates won’t be trying to explain the comments of a pastor or imaginary sniper-fire, they’ll be trying to quell the hoo-ha about the picture on facebook of them doing a keg stand from way back in 2008. With social networking sites popping up like your weeds and the possibility of incrimination on a massive scale (youtube), future politicians are going to have to worry about their online reputations from the beginning of their careers. Or people will have to lighten up and realize we were all dumb college kids once.

  2. I’m not holding my breath for the day when political candidates’ lives aren’t picked over by their opponents for any potential pratfalls, even if they occurred when the person was a toddler.

    Any minute now toddlers will have their own reveal-all blogs… then the nasty ticks they played on their mommies during potty-training will trail them forever.