Thursday, April 10, 2008


My name is pretty unique--if you google me, you find me. For a long time there wasn't another, but now there is. She's 24, blond, and British, a little artsy and definitely a party girl. I don't feel much of a connection with her, though I'm unduly pleased, in a slight and pretentious way, by the artsiness. I wonder if my much larger internet presence bothers her.

It's (obviously) the last name that makes my name unusual. When I was growing up, we were the only ones in the phone book, and we really pretty much assumed that everyone who had the name was related to us. Then another one, Lucy, appeared, and we figured there must be a few more (is it normal behavior to look for your name in the phone book? it seemed so to me, but perhaps it is of a piece with encyclopedia reading and self-googling: a compulsive need to affirm one's reality).

I discovered the chess champion in Amsterdam where we introduced ourselves to a guy who turned out to be on his way home from a chess tournament and asked if we were related to the champion. I think there's a musician, and there's definitely an Israeli MP. Now I see on LinkedIn that there are lots of us, and I do wonder who they are.

Is this what it's like to be a Smith, or a Rachel Cohen? I think not, because if you are a Smith or a Rachel Cohen, you discover your ubiquity early. This feels more destabilizing: we have been allowed, for longer, to believe in the myth of our uniqueness, and now technology has taken that myth away.


Libby said...

My dad used to look up our name in the phone book of every city he visited. The spelling's unusual in this country so there didn't used to be too many, but he now shares a name with a basketball star. Dad gets a big kick out of this, but when you google him, you do get the basketball star instead.

Phantom Scribbler said...

She's the only one of you on Facebook, though.