Few of my “real-life” friends have Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.
Their names barely show up on Google.
My name barely shows up on Google.
It is a relief.
For years my name was out there. If you write, and I used to write, some of your old articles are published on the internet. As the years go by, fewer of your articles show up. My worst essay has finally vanished.
There’s something about the internet.
Old friends you hope to hear from never contact you. The people you barely knew and never think of track you down . Troubled people email you. People who dated you when you were thin and blonde email you. Very occasionally someone you really liked sends a greeting.
Some people want you to write articles about them.
You write, “I’m so glad you’re doing well; lovely to hear from you; but sorry, I don’t write anymore.”
The internet is there, it can be addictive, and people are idle.
All right, I Googled some people tonight. I am idle.
Google can be like surveillance. Even the name of a friend who obviously didn’t want to be found–in 20 years online, her name has never appeared–recently showed up in a Google search. Her photo and a short resume appear, probably to her annoyance, in conjunction with her workplace. Oh, I’m relieved she’s alive. I was afraid she’d committed suicide. She has impressive liberal arts degrees, and I am proud of her. She dropped out for a while, as we all did, but she survived.
“Why don’t you email her?” my husband asked.
“I couldn’t possibly.”
Often I Google an old friend and the news is sad. He or she has died: my best friend from high school; the first boy who ever told me I was pretty; and my favorite professor.
One of my former professors, not much older than I am, actually has a Facebook page. I enjoyed her list of favorite movies and music, but I will not email her. I took one class from her years ago, and she would not remember me. It was a large class.
Famous people are often Googled or even cyberstalked.
Oh, dear, maybe I shouldn’t have sent a fan email to So-and-So?
Is that okay?
I have made some real friendships on the net, and cyberfriends often know how to behave on the internet better than these new-old friends.
No, it is past acquaintances who are sometimes inappropriate. Does he or she really think I would believe a lie or two or three I’ve caught? Do I need these outpourings? Who is he or she again?
“Honey, do we know this person who says he’s from X and knew us in So-and-So’s class?” I call.
“Don’t open it.”
And now you know what it is to be cyberstalked.