August 28, 2010

Web voyeurism

I recall using Google for the first time ten years ago, while writing little reviews of Don Alfonso Reyes’ books for a Finnish project. At that time, Google was still rather unknown, at least in Mexico, so I thought it was a Finnish search engine. A couple of years later, in a very boring afternoon, I had the “very original idea” of googleing myself. Nothing. I googled myself a few more times, and there was nothing. I don’t know when I found my name online for the first time.

This searching reminded me of my child days when I used to play with the yellow pages looking for my relatives and neighbors: to me, having the name printed on the phone book meant to be somebody, to have a house with a land line.

Googleing yourself has become for many people a daily, weekly or monthly activity, such as checking your haircut on the mirror. Still, some "tabooists" regard it rather as a vanity affair.

I have googled many people all these years. I just googled, for instance, the name of an author whose essay I have to translate. And despite this familiarity with Google, I felt strange when I found out by accident that somebody had googled me. The person knows me and can meet me in real reality any time, but should had been curious about me and wanted to know better who the heck I am. But instead of asking me anything or showing interest into who I am or what do I think about this or that, I was googled.

It seems that the best way of checking what others do or think is not anymore by sharing a bottle of wine, but rather asking Google.

It felt as if somebody was spying on me, whereas “stalking” is a more precise word. It is in any case a strange feeling: it was my decision to go online, I myself google other people, I knew that other people had googled me because they had told me, but in this case I felt that there was a wrong motivation for this person to google me.

It felt as being secretly observed by a voyeur, like somebody searching for some sort of (nonexistent) evidence into my personal stuff instead of asking openly. It is not about Google itself, but about the motivation behind typing my name into the search engine, as it is not about being naked but about who is the voyeur and why is he checking you out secretly. I could imagine their brain thinking "Who the fuck is this guy?" while typing my name into Google, whereas a plain websearcher-brain rather thinks "Who is this guy?", and a emotional websearcher-brain thinks "Who the fuck is this guy?".

I have this blog, which is open to everybody, where I show what I write and think, and my little discoveries. Since it seems that this person googled me wrongly -- finally, it all depends on how you look at, and on listening --, it is possible that this post won't be read by this person. But who knows, maybe I was found in the meantime and this person is reading this post. In that case, go and check out the name "Néstor Buendía" as well...


Guillermo Núñez said...

¿Sabes que no había visto esta entrada, escrita dos días antes de la que escribí?

¿Qué significa esto, Enrique?

¿Somos almas gemelas?

Anonymous said...

¡Hola, Enrique!

Quizá no entendí bien el texto. Una pregunta: ¿cómo supiste que te habían "googleado"?

En cualquier caso, se me ocurren varias razones por las que alguien te busca en internet y no se pone en contacto contigo. Por ejemplo, alguien leyó tu blog y quería saber si habías publicado algún libro o si colaborabas en algún medio de información; una chica muy tímida que no se atreve a escribirte quiso saber de ti o bien simplemente deseaba encontrar alguna foto tuya actual; un viejo amigo te estuvo buscando en internet para ponerse en contacto contigo próximamente; un editor interesado en tu trabajo averiguó más de ti antes de escribirte... Pueden ser muchas cosas.

Un saludo,