Monday, February 28, 2011

Googling People To Death Isn't Cool

I'll never forget that historic day back in 2001  when the high powered law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop LLP asked me what Google was. "What's Google?" asked someone from human resources at a meeting.  The lady had asked because I brought up the firm's first Google search case after I discovered one of my coworkers who shared my desk was featured on a psychotherapy site The Company Therapist.

Back in those days it was very strange and shocking to find such strange info on a coworker on the Internet.  Alan had given me a hard time in the office since we shared desks having even complained to top gun Mary Cranston about how he was allegedly being discriminated against.  I thought his behavior was eccentric so I Googled him to find a web site had documented someone in San Francisco with his name.  I figured someone had fictionalized the stories but some of the elements of truth remained about a narcissistic personality I had encountered in the office.

To make a long story short, back in the old days there was no procedural protocol on how to deal with such information on Google so I thought nothing of reporting the coworker search to my supervisor.  The supervisor didn't appreciate the information at all and it's easy to see why with all the legal issues it presented. It's interesting to note what happened years later when a coworker Googled me in 2008 at Chapman & Cutler LLP.   By then things had changed significantly to where Google information was accepted as part of an employee's image,  quite unfairly I might add.  The Google junk had so affected the other employees' behavior towards me that I quit my $64K a year 35 hour per week job. That's what Google did to my life in 2008 and it hasn't stopped since.

So last night I had yet another experience with some obnoxious man Googling my name for no just cause or reason.  He just saw my name on a professional forum and decided to Google it.  Voila!  He wrote back to the others on the thread to Google my name and they responded with "interesting reading" and posted a URL to a particular page.  When I protested, they all laughed at me on the forum saying "give me a break" as if they had every right to do this kind of thing.

Let's face it, this  Googling behavior is getting out of hand.  I did nothing whatsoever to cause my name to be Googled.  People don't respect each other's privacy any longer and it seems everyone's fair game.  I'm not saying I'm a Googling angel, but I don't go around Googling strangers for no valid reason.  It used to be someone asked for your phone number, today they hold you hostage over what they find on Google or write about you for not giving your number to them.

In another example, two weeks ago I was trying to sell a DVD burner copier tower on Craigslist only for the guy to Google me and write "ha ha ha ha ha" in an email after I wouldn't sell it to him.  It freaked me out.  Why this obnoxious behavior?  I tried to sell it to him for cheap but he expected me to wait 7 days without a down payment?  Then he harassed me when it didn't work out?  After I got his email, I left a voice mail:
"I wasn't quite sure why you felt it necessary to Google me or send me that rude email, that it's probably some symptom perhaps of your mother not breast feeding you at a young age or whatever, but I didn't do anything wrong to you.  Move on and let it go."
Google Gang Bangers 

I've never partaken in this kind of behavior to gang up on weak or vulnerable people as these people have towards myself, at least not since junior high school.  I can't imagine what it would be like to behave this way ganging up on on someone. I had the misfortune of a couple of crazy men latching onto me a few years ago I sued.  It seems to be entertainment for many people to witness my torment.  Take for instance Susan Fischer of in  Lincoln City Oregon. Here was one of Susan's comments to my complaint of being ganged up on a professional notary forum today:
(chortle) "[h]arassment?" "[give you a try?]" heh heh heh 
- Susan Fischer, Mobile Notary & Signing Agent

Susan's profile on the site claims she's "mature".  Anyone who writes a stranger whose clearly annoyed "heh heh heh" has some kind of lack of maturity in my humble opinion.  What did I do to her? Absolutely nothing.  It seems that certain people personalize things that clearly aren't directed towards them. Why try to fan the flames when the issue isn't directed at you personally?  Why join the fray? My message had clearly been directed towards one trouble maker I couldn't email because they were anonymous.

Thou Shalt Not Google Recklessly

I counter this Googling craze and violation of privacy by only Googling whenever it is absolutely relevant or necessary.  Did someone rip me off?  If yes, I'll Google them.  What did that person do to cause something bad to happen to me?  Yes, I'll Google them.  But just pulling strangers' names off of a forum and Googling them for no reason, then discussing them on a forum, that's bad manners looking for trouble. 

The forum thread was coincidentally about how some nice person hoped Signing Agents could find supplemental income during the coming hard times for the industry.  Maybe these guys can get a job at Google googling to their little heart's content because they clearly have too much time on their hands.

Today my personal morals prohibit me from Googling someone for no just cause.  Somebody needs to write a Google Book of Karma perhaps for those who abuse the medium.  There's something wrong about strangers Googling people without their permission for no just cause. My life's not public, I'm a private citizen. I reveal what I want to reveal and no one has a right to broadcast every painful detail of any tragedy or someone's lies all over the Internet as if they're the National Enquirer and I'm a multi-million dollar celebrity.