Googling myself is something that I have done occasionally over my time in college and high school. I have noticed that as the years have gone on my online presence has grown rapidly. In the past I was not featured towards the top of search result because lack of internet use, however as that has increased, my name has shifted towards the top. Most of what appears now is a self-produced manicured version of myself. One constant throughout this process was definitely gaps in my online profile compared to my true self because of what I chose to put out.
After googling myself what I expected to show up is what showed up: a smattering of high school tennis articles and results, social media accounts, and professional pages liked LinkedIn. My blogs for this class on Medium even showed up but not untill further along in the results. The one thing that surprised me was how easily I found stuff about myself. In the past I would be behind older John and Jack Hessingers, but now I am towards the top. The most curious part about my online profile is the social media presence because I did not join social media until I got to college.
Social Media I was late to joining social media, so you can’t find much on me in this area. Much of my reasoning behind not joining was a lack of interest and the reports of overuse of social media being bad for one’s mental health. I ultimately joined more so out of conformity and the feeling of missing out. When I first started, I felt like I was wasting a lot of time and have since decreased my use drastically.
The only social media I use consistently is Twitter, and I typically use it browse others’ tweets and not tweet myself. So, my social media presence isn’t too strong and doesn’t lead to strong search results. The number one social media account that shows up is actually an account that my friend made pretending to be me. He made it in high school to try to get me to join because I was the only person that didn’t have one. Most people’s online profiles are very long because of their extensive social media presence. This made my search a little more difficult because I don’t have much to be searched on the social media side, and what does show up is basically just tweets and retweets about my favorite sports teams.
One site, Facebook, which I have an account on, is especially bare. My Facebook is one of the top Google search results for my name, however after clicking on it you will find nothing. Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites and has been around for longer than some other popular sites. However, I didn’t download it until freshman year of college and only use it for Facebook Marketplace. This is a popular spot to look for people’s interests, opinions, or even personalities because most people have an extensive history in there dating back to their early teen years.
The largest part of my profile is pages on professional websites like LinkedIn or Way Up. These contain my resume and other professional milestones, so people looking for me are likely to learn about my professional and academic background. Sites like this are tailored to look good for potential employers though, so while it does provide some background info on me, this info is very pointed and deliberately picked to make myself look good.
Because I was the one that chose this information, I am obviously pleased that this is what came up. I definitely find it interesting though to think that someone who doesn’t know me would put so much weight on this stuff because it is what is prominent. In the future I plan to make a conscious effort to shift away from focusing so much on this because this part of my online identity is already flushed out, and focus on things outside of professional history to create a more well-rounded profile.
What the Internet Got Right
The internet was able to point out my top interest, which is sports. Much of my day is involved around watching or playing sports, and this was captured as almost my entire profile focused on it. Anything on social media that I posted was sports related and any outside sources cited my past high school tennis “career”. So, someone googling me will find my top interest, but will struggle to learn much more about me.
Based on some of my posts on social media or through the blogs I wrote on medium, people may be able to gather some of my opinions or personality traits. For example, most of my posts on social media are negative towards teams of mine that aren’t performing well. This can show some small personality traits such as passionate or short-tempered. One could also infer my competitiveness from my athletic background. They would also know where I stand on some tech ethics issues from my blog posts.
Finally, my professional experiences that come through on sites like LinkedIn show my career interest and what skills I am proficient in. Based on my work experience and academic workload, people researching me would know I am analytical person with strong problem-solving skills. As I stated earlier though, this is what I want to come up, but doesn’t tell the whole story.
What the Internet Missed
Outside of a few fake social media profiles, the internet didn’t get too much wrong. The bigger question is what the internet missed. While someone looking for me online will receive mostly correct info without much difficulty, they will be missing out on a lot of other angles of myself.
The biggest thing missing from my online profile is my personality. While this is probably true for most people, it is even more true for myself because I don’t put my words out there often. Some traits can be inferred, but most of what is on the internet is either facts about me or stuff that was written about me which doesn’t show my character. For example, there may be some tennis scores out there that show that I am interested in tennis, however that doesn’t tell a story about what I am as a competitor or a teammate. It doesn’t show my leadership amongst my teammates and ability to build them up or the good character and good sportsmanship I show on the court. Likewise, my professional profiles capture my experiences but don’t share much about my interests outside of the classroom or the office.
This leads to another thing that is missing from online profile: auxiliary interests. By looking at my social media you gather that I am a huge sports fan, specifically what teams I am a fan off, and my love for tennis, but you wouldn’t know much outside of that. This is primarily my fault as I don’t share the other stuff online. A person meeting me in person however, would learn a lot about my other interests. Other interests that aren’t online include nature, video games, craft beers, and sustainability. Two of my favorite things to do are ski and hike but these aren’t featured in Google searches. In the future I hope to include more about these interests with social media posts and including interests on my LinkedIn.
The biggest flaw I noticed from the searches was the fact that much of what was out there was self-provided information. I think this both a good and a bad thing, because I am able to control what others see about me but for someone like me who isn’t too active there isn’t much on me. I found it very interesting how focused my profile was, and going this project it I thought I would find more unexpected things on there. After realizing how self-manicured my online profile is, it is on me to share more and create a more well-rounded online identity.
The other interesting aspect I noticed is that since I didn’t have much of a social media presence before college, almost all of my profile reflect myself from recent years. I have changed a lot personally since starting college and almost none of this is reflected in my online profile because the only person that is showcased is my “college self”. No one who only knows me online will understand the growth I have made or how some of my views may have changed over the years.
This was overall a very useful experience; I now know what people can find out about me online and moving forward I will make sure to include other aspects of my identity. I was able to find things about myself that I had forgotten about. This shows that anything you do online truly last forever. I will be much more conscious about the person I am putting out to the world, both the good and the bad, and making sure to highlight different aspects about myself. The size of the gap between myself offline and online was certainly larger than I expected, and I look forward to working on closing this gap and checking my progress.