What I Discovered by Googling My Name

Have you ever Googled yourself?

I have, but that probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many of you who know how much of a narcissistic egomaniac I am.

Even if it’s in your nature to be more humble and reserved than I, I still recommend that you occasionally run a search of yourself at www.google.com, if only to find out how you are viewed by the world.  The odds are what you find out will both be surprising and not so surprising as it was for me.

Before I get to the substance of what I discovered about myself after I Googled myself, I have a brief suggestion on how to run this search.  I do this about once a month so I know from experience that getting a fully comprehensive result of on yourself is a fairly involved process.  You need to do more than simply run a search on your name that immediately pops into your mind; it’s important that you think of, and run searches on, all possible alternatives.

Thus, if you usually go by “Jon” or “Mike,” make sure to also run a search with “Jonathan” or “Michael.”  Also make sure you do a search with and without a middle name, remembering that often, your middle name only appears as an initial.  There also may be more unusual circumstances to consider.  For example, if you went through a period of your life when you had an identity crises and went by a different name or when you had others call you by a nickname, you should recall those odd names that you’d now rather forget and search them too.

Once you come up with a comprehensive list of the variations of your name, my recommendation is that you start the Googling with your full, legal name.  This will allow you to discover how unique (or not unique) you are in parts of the world with Internet connection.

It’s based on such search that I can fairly confidently proclaim that I am the only “Joe Michael Sasanuma” in the entire world.  The confirmation of my personal uniqueness among the billions of people in this world has affirmed what I have been told since the fourth grade, when my teacher personally gave me a pencil that had the phrase “You’re Unique and Special” written on it.

Speaking of discoveries that boosted my confidence, I found out to my great delight that my undergraduate thesis on Japanese electoral politics has been cited by a law professor at a distinguished law school in a lengthy article published in a respectable law journal, thereby providing much needed legitimacy to the piece.  This is a second case of my undergraduate thesis being cited (the first being this), evidencing that, after a long decade, my thesis is finally getting traction for global recognition that is due.

Of course, the Google search endeavor hasn’t been without disappointments.  Somewhat to my chagrin, I’ve discovered that, as far as the Internet is concerned, today I am indeed my work.  The most common hits under any variation of my name is about how I am an attorney who is qualified to practice law in the states of New York and New Jersey.  Websites I have never heard of that have never contacted me that I prefer not to be associated with have frighteningly accurate information about my professional career.  I have a huge ego and I don’t mind being pampered , but even I think having a profile on a site called http://www.rocketlawyer.com is shady.

The great thing about the Internet, though, is that if you find something you don’t like, you can just keep on clicking through the searches because you’ll eventually come across the most obscure of information that will be to your liking.

And so it is that I re-discovered the time when I was about more than law when Google linked my name to the archives of Boston College’s student-run newspaper, The Heights.  In the four years I wrote for the paper, I was a weekly business columnist who on occasion couldn’t resist the urge and wrote op-eds on politically polarizing topics like affirmative action and the Iraq War.  It gave me great pleasure but little surprise to learn that, after all these years, I can continue to stand behind these op-eds.

This, though, is about it.  I went through every result of every search under every iteration of my name, and my college thesis, my writing for the college paper and my career being law essentially constitute everything there is to be found about me on the Internet.  As important as those things are to me, I’d like to think that there is more, much more, to who really I am.

The most shocking part of this entire exercise turned out to be not so much what the Internet knows about me, but (I’d like to think) what it doesn’t know.


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