Have you ever “Googled” your name? Your blog name? Your friend’s name? Your address? The world of online fame and personal invasion is amazing. And, depending upon what you’re looking for, frightening.
I tested my worldwide fame on a few levels this morning, and was amazed at what I found.
First I searched for “goddess” on Yahoo. My blog was nowhere to be seen in the first 15 pages. (The limit of my scientific research). No problemo. I tried the same on Google, and one of my blogs was 6th. Clap clap! Then I tried the word “humor” (almost as broad a term). Nothing in the first 15 pages of Google, the same with Yahoo. Now I know popularity is all in the name, and my name (Humoring) is different than Humor. So I tried MY version. Second page on Yahoo, first page on Google. Not bad, eh? So if anyone in the reading universe is looking for a chuckle, they have to pick the right noun in order to find me. If they are looking for a connection to the Goddess, I’m nowhere to be found.
I then decided to venture into the more personal realm. This is where it gets scary. My full name (who is actually me and not the doppelgängers). My name/blog appeared 9th in Google, Yahoo, not at all. But it starts to get creepy when all these sites tell you they can give me information based on my name. So I tried a few. Spokeo found me. The White Pages found me. USA People Search found me. Some had other family names attached to the info. For just $3.95 or $4.95 you can find out all kinds of things about me.
I typed in my address. There was my house on Zillow, with an approximate dollar value. There I was on Trulia, with a Google map tour down the road I live on and even down my driveway. They estimate the value of my house, my monthly mortgage payment, and how much I paid for it. For $1 I could get a full report from Property Owners Org. about my house, including code problems, legal problems, square footage, and value of the property. I tried my social security number. E-Verify said they could give me court records, criminal records, phone number, and a half dozen other things about my personal life.
Suddenly free speech and public information isn’t such a great idea. What started out as a fun search on how popular a name my blog was on search engines turned into a nightmare as I realized that, for a fee, anyone can find out anything about you. It doesn’t matter if the information is old or bogus; your name, your address, even your social security number is floating around in Internet Space somewhere. And if someone really wanted to wreak havoc with your personal (or public) life, it would only cost them $4.95.
It makes you want to become a hermit. Not a goddess.