City Pulse

By Amber Roniger

THAT IS THE QUESTION…

It’s been a prescient topic of conversation lately. Well, I am… Googlable, that is (puffs with pride). I’ll admit that I revel in seeing, day by day, more and more veins of information connecting, congealing and collating on the web in connection with my name. But what’s the big whoop anyhow? Do more Google hits render me more significant whatsoever? Is being blurb-worthy relevant in the non-Inet-world? Or is the Google Universe just some bizarre feedback loop, a random rating system of completely superfluous cyber-trifle relating cyclically to nothing but itself? Are numerous Google entries the new measure of global success? Or is all this self-Googling just some meaningless id trip of my own creation? (Or is it the superego… I always confuse those.) I suppose it could be an actual sign of bona fide legitimacy… or random fodder for self-indulgent fantasies. Clearly I vacillate. And who’s to judge its true significance anyhow (presuming there is any), the à¼ber-Google God? Pure techno-blasphemy!

Be honest with me, do you find this whole schlemiel to be completely haphazard psycho-drivel? Please forgive… I suffer from lack of cogent outside perspectives.

If truth be told (and there’s no guarantee), I want tons of Google records, gadzillions of ‘em, blurbs galore, pages of links, proof positive of my visceral impact on the world. I don’t exactly expect to find a headshot of myself listed under ‘most popular searches’ anytime soon (unless Hollywood blows up tomorrow, Bollywood is petrified in wood and Michael Jackson moves to Cameroon), but admittedly seeing my name in dotted ‘puter ink makes me swoon mentally (just a taddy bit). So do I just sit and Google myself ad nauseum, you’re naturally wondering, like some megalomaniacal, repetitive mental masturbatory exercise practiced when I’m feeling at my most irrelevant? Nein, that’s not the way I’m in it, for I Google others as well. In fact, Googling ex’s is a prime pastime activity practiced mostly when my sentiment swings toward the masochistic, off kilter, vengeful (phantasmagorically speaking only), or nostalgia. The whole shebang may admittedly be a bit psychologically fraught, but then again, enlighten me about something concerning the human condition which isn’t. And just so you know, these mad Googling frenzies (we’ll refer to them in the future as ‘incidents’) remain buried exclusively under the cover of night. For these sorts of deeds need not see the light of day.

THE EX…

So what’s the point of this whole blather? Where does it come to an emotional head? You knew I was working up to that. So bang, here it is… I have this one ‘ex’ (quote fingers cause I use the term ex verrrry liberally) whose ethereal presence bedevils me like The Ghost of Chanukkah Past. So we’ll refer to him simply as Him. Him, he whose first name is biblically common enough to print without fear of reprisal (the last name is of course a different story, but I don’t have to go there, ’cause someone else already did… more on this later). To digress a moment, my revenge fantasy for Him is shockingly simple and in actuality has paltry little to do with revenge: I’m on the hottie-tottiest date ever, escorted from the limo to the primo restaurant (fancy but not stuffy, we hate overbearing). We are seated at the finest table, properly feng-shuied facing the entire room. And then Him appears to take our drink order. I blink my eyes, do a double take, but yes, it’s Him. Eureka! The opportunity I’ve been envisioning and mentally enacting all these years. That fabulous look I’m craving crosses Him’s face, way beyond surprise, where Him’s bug-eyes bug out and his pupils dilate too fast. Exquisite in its abject monstrosity. And that’s it, the entire fantasy. No Lisa-Left-Eye-Lopez-burning-down-the-house. No high school parking-outside-Him’s-house-stalking, or other untoward suburban creepiness. Just Him seeing me on a hot date and having to do my every bidding. Kinda vanilla, hu?

PSYCHOANALYSIS…

So back to the heart of the whole Googling mishmosh: I’m in the midst of developing an entire arm of psychology explaining Googling ex’s, which can broken down into several psychoses in my pop-psycho-babble book.

Number 1: In the sweetest sense permissible, I’m Googling to verify that the ex is still on the planet, likewise moving and breathing amongst the living. This scenario is semi-defensible and even touchingly nostalgic (mayhaps). But here marks our first point of departure.

Number 2: The idea that his lack of Googleness is some sure sign of his floundering or failure. Still waiting tables at 40 (or is it 41 by now?). Classic Schadenfreude.

Number 3: On the flip side, discovering that he’s become a success, which might make me pissy, cause hey, why couldn’t he get his business together when we were together… and hence, the ugly appearance of our first double-edged sword. And just so you know, I always keep in mind that whatever I find serves me right, because I went cyber-snooping of my own free volition (more on this in a moment). One should never go looking for what they don’t wish to find. But yet, still, I do, it’s true.

THE CONFESSION…

Number 4: The undeniable truth that I’m dying for him to Google me. For him to recognize that I’m moving and shaking and making real strides as a professional. At long last, I’m becoming the somebody that I’d imagined I’d be… a published writer, whose thoughts and words can be traced across the timeless Internet ocean, and henceforth some semblance of a woman can be calculated. A woman. No longer a girl (yah, thanks for that one, Britney). And then of course he’ll want me back, naturally, unequivocally. Oh yes, I confess, I want Him to come crawling back at the overwhelming existential existence of my gorgeous Googleness. But will he? Look me up, that is.

OOPS I DID IT AGAIN….

Now we’re nearing the heart of the incident, that which may occur only in the absence of light. You sensed it coming, no? So I Google Him the other night, as I’m often wont to do, absurdly late of course. Just to see, as I’ve done many times before. I mean do I reek of Google amateur? I’m always pouring over the digital pages for that new entry, which I rarely find, a fresh public acknowledgement that Him still slithers the earth, is still out there wreaking havoc in his own facaccta way. Somehow I still need these moments – maybe it makes me feel not so alone. Or maybe it’s my evil twin lurking, unashamed to laugh at inappropriate times: that his midlife crisis duly came and went and he’s still a bleeding waiter working on ‘that book.’

So I do the deed. ‘Type, type, type,’ the incident embarks. The first entry is always the same, this campy blog of some weirdo couple who had dinner at a now defunct bistro (yah, I’ll get in any little stab) where he worked. They snapped three pictures of him engaged in some top-secret busboy-waiter sign language: one hand-motion for flat water, one for tap and one for bubbly (more convoluted than algorithms by my clumsy calculations!). What a sleight-of-hand-master! Isn’t that just special enough to blog about? Truly, the culmination of quantum mathematics coupled with sheer planetary brilliance surely stands the test-of-waiter-time. (Do you note a twinge of bitterness? Of course you do, you sensed it all along.) Truthfully though, seeing those pictures makes me feel both sad and superior. Sad, because damn, doesn’t he look just absolutely adorable, timeless and unique (see, I can be sensitive)? And superior, ’cause he’s still waiting and waiting, and I’m getting published! Oy vey, I am a bitch. But at least I’m frank.

I must know, do you think I’ve jumped utterly off the sadistic deep-end? A mad Googler with no defense and no discernible glory?

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU GOOGLE FOR…

Anyhow, back to the Googling game. The next blurb is some crap about some other dude with Him’s name… who knew?

But just beneath that, hark… what the… something unexpected, a new entry advertising Him’s unparalleled stupidity and unabated recklessness. A blogy restaurant review for some joint closing down in BK. It does seem logical that as a purported writer, Him might be chronicling restaurant reviews. I could buy that for a dollar. In fact, that would refute my à¼ber-theory that in a few year’s time, Him’ll end up like that old-timer bartender at Elaine’s who ‘sold a play once.’ But this particular blurb, most decidedly not written by Him, confirms all of my worst fears at once. That Him is and was indeed the liar-cheat I’d always suspected (okay fine, I already knew, but here’s proof positive). I’m thusly baited.

You know you’re in a pickle when the third hit in a name search displays incriminating text right on the Google page as such… “I was taken to L****** by Brooklyn local J*** S*******, who lives nearby, on our first “date” of our two-year affair. It was great — the tiki torches…” Oh wow, okay, so far very bad, indeed hideous. What balls… she prints Him’s goddamn name! I think I like this chick. But now I’m in it too deep. I click through. ‘Click.’ The headline on the actual review page reads, “great place to begin an illicit affair.” Way to put your best foot forward (insert applause here)! But by this point, it’s already all too obvious. I pause to wonder what Him’s wife would make of that? Man, Him musta really pissed off this ‘writer’ girl for her to create a permanent cybernetic record fully integrated into the sub-strata data stream for the whole world to see, forever and for always. What a peach!

GOOGLE EARLY & OFTEN…

Now that I’m getting passionately into this Googling phenomenon, the science just keeps expanding. I’m taking a poll of my girlfriends to see if they’re hep to the cyber-spy trend. And apparently they are. One savvy comrade tells me that she Googles potential partners before, during and after a relationship. Pretty intelligent. I could use some of that forethought next time. But then again, she’s dating her sixth grade boyfriend (yes, really). All in all I’d have to say, it’s very valuable to do your homework ahead of time, and of course, Google early and often to stay up to date with the changing Google tides.

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL…

Finally though, I think I’m doing better with man selection process. As of late I’ve morphed an old friend into my new naked friend, who is especially upright and forthcoming. And I go out in public escorted by my ‘social husband,’ a very agreeable arrangement. So at least I’m learning from past mistakes! But I must say, this most recent Google debacle clearly indicates that this cybernetic information tracking system can change from day to day, hour to hour, moment to nano-moment. And hence the evidence grows that I must keep on Googling and Googling…

TOTAL DISCLOSURE…

Yes, I secretly (fine, publicly) want Him to Google me and find this piece. After all, I am the Mad-Googler.

Originally published December 2006
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