Never Mind the Paper Trail! Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

…what you say on line tends to stay there. I try never to say anything I would be ashamed of if anyone I knew read it. I can see that when you start down the social networking road your name does get out there and stays out there

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A few days ago I got an email indicating I needed to approve a comment on the Squidoo lens I wrote about the death of my daughter, Sarah. When saw I the comment and who sent it, I was floored. It was from a friend I’d lost track of for a few years — a close friend. Both of us had moved and begun new lives, and that tends to make people busy and disinclined to keep up with people they rarely see. The urgent tasks in the present tend to blur the past a bit, for better or worse. Although there was no last name, I knew that those comments could only have come from my friend Dianne. But I couldn’t figure out how she found that lens about Sarah out of the blue. She hadn’t even known about Sarah’s death until she read it.

I was able to answer Dianne back through Squidoo, and I asked her how she ever found me and the lens. She replied that she had looked me up on Google. We have exchanged a few emails since then, but I was curious as to what Google had revealed to her. Tonight I finally had a few minutes and thought I’d take a peak. Amazing! So far I’m on page six of at least 15 link pages where my name is mentioned. I would expect to see my name on my blogs, web sites, and social networking profiles, but I was quite surprised to see the other places my name appeared — so far. I found that one statement I made was quoted on several sites. One article from my web site was quoted and credited, but with no link back to my web site.  It was also  summarized on a Chinese web site. I had forgotten about all the comments I had left on other people’s blogs. I even found myself listed in the county records as the informant of my mother’s death, since I was with her to the end and did report her death. Just now on page eight I filled out a form that appeared to give me a chance to correct company information on a directory listing. When I hit preview, I discovered it was a come-on to get you to pay for an upgraded listing. Boo! On page nine the listings start to be mostly  really not me or repeats.

What I discovered is what many have already said —  what you say on line tends to stay there. I try never to say anything I would be ashamed of if anyone I knew read it. I can see that when you start down the social networking road your name does get out there and stays out there. I suppose I also have a paper trail, but most of what I write is no longer on paper.