Step 3 in the 23things project I mentioned in the previous post is about checking out your digital footprint. The task was to ‘Google’ yourself and reflect on the results and I must admit this made me feel instantly old.
In Dec 1997, when the Google website was barely a few months old, a friend of mine got in touch – the old fashioned way, by turning up at my door and ringing the bell.
I can always remember it was December as I had her Christmas present in the middle of the living room floor waiting to be wrapped. It was in full view of the front door and I had to jig about in a approximation of the ‘pee pee’ dance in an attempt to block the view of her gift.
Anyway, my friend had a problem; one that, apparently, only I could solve. She need to apply for a job but had missed the deadline to post the application and need to email it to the company. Could I do that for her? I was the only person she knew with an email address. I was a little shocked by this but yes I could help her but I had to closed the door for 2 minutes. Which I did and scooped up her gift and deviously hid it behind a pot plant.
In 1997, I had 2 email account – one that came with my home internet account and one for my work. I kept in touch with my family overseas with my personal account and my colleagues and clients with my work account, it was at that moment I realised none of my friend where online. I told my friend that I was going to do one better than that, I was going to give here an email address all of her own. One where she could send her own CV and check up on it online. And so I started to create for her a Yahoo Mail account of her very own.
We hit a snag very early on, in that my friend wanted her username to be just her first name. It was a very unique name, which came about when her Italian/Dutch father had not only mispronounced but also misspelled the Welsh name her mother had decided on when filling out her birth certificate. No one had the same name as her and it was something she celebrated. So when we typed in the name only to be told it was already taken and offered it with the number 3 after it. There where not enough emojis in the world to express our surprise, this is because emojis didn’t exist yet. (This is why I feel old)
Yahoo Mail was pretty new and if not just one but two people already had that user name – it meant my friends name was no where near a unique as she thought it was. So using multiple search engines we tracked down the other holders of this name : both were in America and both worked in Silicone Valley. My friend settled on a using both her very unique first name and relatively plain last name. We posted her CV and sat back down with a glass of wine and my friend encouraged me to search my name which I did and discovered that I shared a name with a rising star on the basketball circuit. I was quite chuffed about that, the first dozen or so entries talked about her career and prospects and listed around 15 or so was a link to my profile page on my company website.
My friend loved her gift and got the job BTW. She emailed me a few weeks ago to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Yahoo Mail account which she has kept through all of its iterations.
I have since then Google myself infrequently, the Basketball Star gave way to incredibly successful Wedding Photographer in Dallas ( They could be the same person, I’ve not paid enough attention). I’ve slunk down the listing a bit further as time has passed.
An incident 5 years ago when one of my email accounts was spoofed caused me to lock down nearly all of my social media accounts, it was around the time I had started working in education so I created a short course on keep thing safe online based on my own experiences. So now, unless you get very specific with you search terms – I barely appear at all.
So for a giggle, just now, I Googled myself in the broadest terms, not using any “”+- or any other helpers and I’m pleased to announce that apparently I’m marrying Prince Harry* later this year.
*I’m not marring Prince Harry and to my knowledge I’m not related to Megan Markle at all but , come on, the name’s not that common and surely I deserve an invite for that.
“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” ― W.C. Fields