I read this article on Poets & Writers and it really struck a chord. A discordant one. I, too, Google myself. I, too, do so often and to no real satisfaction. And as I near the end of my program and the job market looms, I am minded of a little thing called professional identity.
Some aspects of my Internet presence make sense. As a writer and an avid reader, my Goodreads page is a no-brainer. Sure, I've wasted time on some questionable books on my life, but there are no incriminating photos of me sexualizing "The Wasteland". My selections don't reveal an inordinate attention to erotica or shitty romance novels. There are also my (very few) publications, my university related activities and my occasional forays into civic discourse. All of these would make perfect sense to a potential employer.
What I'm worried about, what we should all be worried about, are those little indiscretions or ill-advised decisions that come back to bite us on the ass. I'll admit, I was once a comic book geek. I still would be, but for the lack of funds to support the habit. I'm not ashamed of that. What I am ashamed of is that I actually wrote letters and emails, posted on message boards, attended comic book conventions, and generally exhibited all of the symptoms of a crazed fangirl. Given that the realm of comic book geeks tends to overlap with that of Internet geeks, it is no surprise that there are traces of my former life still available for public consumption. I love how, even then, I was bringing my amazing powers of analysis and interpretation to bear on the convoluted plot of Strangers in Paradise #27:
It's interesting that, when she thinks the end is near, Katchoo is so certain that she will die. Even though she's lived through so much. She shows little concern for David right before the plane crashes. In fact, it's Francine that she thinks of (of course). What a complex situation.
What incredible insight. An earlier letter to the writers of a fantasy comic called Elfquest (I believe I was 9 at the time, which means there was no Internet to speak of, which means someone even geekier than me must have expended a lot of time and energy to go back through the print versions of the Elfquest letters columns and code them all in HTML) shows my innate love of inquiry and my innate interest in fictional genealogies:
In the book Blood of Ten Chiefs it says that Pike is Rain's son. Is this true? If it is then Pike is Rainsong's brother, isn't he? Who was his mother? Who was Rainsong's mother? I'm totally confused-- can you straighten this out?
Who wouldn't want to hire an employee that showed such precocity so early in life? Possibly the same person who wouldn't want to hire an employee who didn't have the good judgment not to post on a website called "Pagan Perspectives" when she was 25 and should have known better. Possibly the same person who wouldn't hire an employee who might waste valuable work time posting answers to trivia questions on Gorp.com for free trail mix.
I could just deny any knowledge of these former selves. I could claim that they are, in fact, not me, in the same way that the highly successful architect, drummer, Wellesley grad and mom Trina (Burke) Gribble is not me. Or maybe I should claim that she is me and disavow the other, actual me's.
Is there a way to get Internet references to oneself taken down? If there is, let me know. I have some housecleaning to do.
So what have we learned, aside from the fact that Trina Burke is completely out-of-control when it comes to her Internet addiction and needs an intervention?