August 22, 2014
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Are you ‘Googleable’? Miscellaneous

Last time, I discussed how it’s part of the mission of University News and a goal of this blog to practice transparency: Being open and honest, and having nothing to hide at all times.

A discussion with my colleague Marie Lang about revealing something about herself that potentially could be found in a random Google search got me thinking: What makes people think they’re Googleable in the first place? I mean, aside from celebrities, not very many people are.

I learned this firsthand the first time I taught Public Relations Writing at RIT.

Once, when referencing something about myself, it occurred to me that some students possibly already knew the information—because perhaps out of curiosity about the guy with whom they’d be forced to spend 10 weeks in class they had Googled me.

Anyone? Anyone?

After a moment of uncomfortable silence, one young lady (most of them were young ladies) replied, with a hint of pity in her voice, “Sorry.”

So who IS ‘Googleable’?

As a writer, I routinely use Google for research. You probably do, too—maybe to shop for a new big screen, search for old lost loves or uncover lurid celebrity gossip.

But aside from celebrities (and old flames), who do we Google? I think four groups of people are regularly Googled:

• People Googling themselves
• Guys Googled by prospective mates making sure they’re not ex-cons
• Girls Googled by prospective dates hoping to find provocative photos of them online
• Prospective employees Googled by would-be employers—to make sure they’re not ex-cons and don’t post provocative photos of themselves online

To almost everyone else who thinks they’re routinely Googled…in the word of my student: “Sorry.”

And to anyone worried about someone accidentally “uncovering” something about them online, I offer the timeless advice:

If you wouldn’t want your mother to hear or read it, don’t say or write it in the first place. (As for my colleague Marie, who first got me thinking about who’s Googleable, I’m positive she would never write anything to cause her mother any embarrassment. Her dog, Dylan, possibly…but not her mom.)

So unless you’re Lindsey Lohan, when it comes to being Googleable, most of us, most of the time, probably aren’t. Sorry.

Bonus: If Google and ‘Seinfeld’ had been popular at the same time…

George: Hey, Jerry, do you think I’m Googleable?
Jerry: YOU? Googleable? What makes you think YOU’RE Googleable?
Elaine: Yeah, George, who do you think you are anyway? Who would want to Google you?
George: I dunno, plenty of people. Marisa Tomei, maybe.
Elaine: Ha! You know, I once Googled a guy to see if he was “sponge worthy”…
Kramer: I’ll tell you who’s Googleable—that kid Justin Bieber.
Jerry: Oh, c’mon, Cosmo—you’re just saying that to get more hits on this blog…
Kramer: Giddyup!

 
  1. Moll Johnson
    May 13

    Love the Seinfeld bit at the end- Perfect!

  2. Greg Livadas
    May 13

    Nice read, and great Seinfeld dialog!

  3. Pete
    May 17

    That's great Mike... again, perfect shtick of Seinfeld. What's weird is I google myself to see what "hits" and it's amazing the other "me's" out there—who they are and what they do. I wonder if they've done the same? Has anyone else googled themselves? I think of it as a proactive marketing effort to be prepared for my celebrity status.

  4. Mike Saffran
    May 19

    I, too, Google myself on occasion. And, likewise, as with the Pete Bellas of the world, there are a few of us (people sharing my name) out there. I’m guessing a lot of people Google themselves—so they’re in the first group of “regularly Googled” people mentioned above. However, most of us in that group are primarily Googled by ourselves only, I think.

  5. Pete
    May 19

    Rachel Pikus, electronic communications specialist at RIT Development and Alumni Relations, shares a great article about how the resume is dead and the bio is king on the Official RIT Alumni Association Linkedin group. The article talks about how well you're googled can make all the difference to prospective employers:

    http://the99percent.com/tips/7025/The-Resume-Is-Dead-The-Bio-Is-King

  6. Nicholas Cheong
    May 27

    I have a blog titled I Lost My Job Because of Social Media, dedicated to warning people to be careful about what they say online. On the blog are many mainstream news articles of people saying inappropriate things that get them into trouble. I hope you'll share that with your friends, colleagues and students.

    http://ilostmyjobbecauseofsocialmedia.wordpress.com

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