Go Google yourself

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

You know, sometimes the Internet can be a scary thing. Actually, it's scary all the time now. I can no longer just get online and check my e-mail without 6,000 pop-up ads asking me which actress is Jennifer Aniston so that I may win a free tropical vacation.

The funny thing is that sometimes I click on the wrong answer on purpose, yet I still seem to win that free vacation. How odd. ...

There's now a new fad out there called Google. It's a search engine that, if you're not careful, will eventually take over the world and may even kill Jennifer Aniston.

I mean you can Google absolutely anything and something will pop up. This can be a bad thing if you're a former criminal. In fact, there's a story about a woman who Googled a doctor she was dating; turns out he was involved in several malpractice suits. Needless to say, that relationship went downhill.

And now they're saying we should be careful about what is posted online about us.

If you type your home phone number into the search box, results include what might show up in a typical phonebook, such as your town, street address and ... a map to your house! Do we really need a visual stalking aid to be posted online for the world to see? Doesn't it discomfort anyone to know that it's available to people like Michael Jackson, who probably sits at his computer typing in random phone numbers?

And if you suspect one of your friends or lovers is a murderer, bank thief or Barbie doll molester, you can simply type their name into Google, which will give you what is basically a free background check.

For instance, when I typed my name in, 115 sites popped up. Most of them were ones for the Southeast Missourian and clubs I had been involved in during high school. And some of them were about other DeReigns whom I had no idea existed, across the country.

I felt like contacting them in some way, just to say hi. But how would I do that without sounding creepy?

"Hi, I was bored one day and came across your name on the Internet. I also happened to come across where you live, what your dog's name is and that your favorite food is green beans. I'm on my way to your home thanks to this handy map. See ya soon!"

So what can we do to stop it? Absolutely nothing. Well, I suppose you could become a recluse, never participating in anything, therefore never being posted on the Internet.

But then again, you could probably type in "recluse" and find your name among the many Web sites.

Just be careful when it comes to your online follies. And although you may know who Jennifer Aniston is, you'll soon find out that the tropical vacation you won wasn't so "free" after all.

Sam DeReign is a graduate of Oran High School. He is currently a freshman at Southeast Missouri State University. Contact him at sdereign@semissourian. com.

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