Google stalking others is a bad habit that I need to really make an effort to put the kibosh on every so often. And just a side note, using the term “stalking” lightly in this way is not in any way intended to diminish the harm of actual stalking. I’m not actually talking about real stalking in this post.
I never used to Google stalk myself, because frankly there was nothing to be found as I had very little online presence.
That started to change when I began blogging. I was suddenly much more present in many more places online,. Although at the time my blog was mostly anonymous(ish), I had used my full name on some sites I’d done guest posts on that linked back to my blog. I hadn’t really thought about this at the time I’d submitted the posts, but when later I Google searched myself I discovered that sites like Stigma Fighters do very well in search rankings. It would be pretty easy for someone from my past to find me on Stigma Fighters and jump from there to my blog. I had mixed feelings about no longer being anonymous in any meaningful sense.
When I published my first book earlier this year, I decided to go ahead and embrace using my full name. I no longer cared all that much if people I’ve known in real life came across me online. Instead of hiding, I decided to go in the opposite direction and get my “personal brand” as out there as I could online.
Now, when I Google stalk myself, I hope to find as many hits as I can. I’ve managed to build up a pretty broad online footprint; I have a presence on a lot of websites that do well in search engine rankings. I actually have to dig a bit deeper to find my blog; I think part of the issue is that the words in my blog name are very generic. But my own name, which I much preferred to keep hidden until earlier this year, is now all over the place.
As an author it’s great that I’m easy to find, I do sometimes wonder if former friends or coworkers ever Google stalk me the way I occasionally do to them. Perhaps they’ve got better things to do with their time.
If someone did come across me, I don’t know that I care enough about what anyone thinks to be all that bothered by it, but I suspect it would feel like a bit of invasion of privacy. I have no problem with any of you reading what I write, but if it came to an ex-friend or coworker I don’t feel like they deserve to know what’s going on in my life.
It is a bit weird, though, to think about being so accessible. There’s definitely something to be said for being un-Google-stalkable. I know people who have zero online presence. However, in a way being so present online is consistent with the anti-stigma message that I want to send. Not that being open about one’s identity is necessary to be a mental health advocate and stigma fighter, but for those people who are in a position where it’s psychologically safe and feasible for them to be open, I think doing so is a step in a positive direction.
Do you ever Google stalk yourself? If so, what do you find?
My new book Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis, with contributions from members of the mental health blogging community, will be released on September 9. My first book, Psych Meds Made Simple, is available on Amazon and other ebook retailers.