Monday, January 21, 2013

"Google Me!": The Hot New Pick-Up Line?

Recently, I've developed a terribly annoying habit -- probably less so for myself than for the people who meet me, though I've yet to get any complaints. It's the Z-list equivalent of celebrities talking about themselves in the third person. I've always hated when they did that. It's like, who does she think she is? Mary J. Blige?

(Oh, wait! She is...)

When I meet new people, and they get to asking all of those pesky introductory questions -- Where are you from? What do you do? A journalist? What kind? -- sometimes I scribble down my first name and surname (or write it, if we're online), and say, "Google me."

I always expect them to be appalled and come back with some cutting remark: "Who do you think you are? Mary J. Blige?" But most of them do as they're told and come back with words of encouragement. I think I've even gotten a few dates out of it. ("Oh, so he's not always a drunk exhibitionist," I imagine them whispering to themselves as they scroll down.) "Google Me": the hot new pick-up line!

Last year, one guy in Bangkok who'd already gone out with me twice before he Googled me (per my instructions, of course), spent a half hour on the phone with me raving about the amount of space I took up in the search engine. "Twenty-two pages!" he marveled over and over, as if it was as note-worthy as winning an Oscar.

I tried to explain to him that any blogger who produces as much content as I do would get tons of Google mentions. It didn't make me a better, or more impressive, person. It's not like I'm Mary J. Blige or something. He wouldn't budge. It took a trip to the hospital later that evening for a dislocated shoulder (something for which I accepted full responsibility -- but you won't find that on Google) for him to change the subject.

I suppose as pick-up lines go, one could do a lot worse. ("Top or bottom?" and "Is it true that when you go black you never go back?" come immediately to mind -- and yes, I really did get the latter one the other day.) But then, there's something to be said for the old-fashioned way of getting to know somebody, slowly peeling away layers, until the core in revealed. Of course, Facebook and Twitter have already taken most of the mystery out of new relationships, so one doesn't even need to have a major Google presence to overshare too fast.

I'd be lying if I said there wasn't an ulterior motive besides my not wanting to explain the intricacies of what I do for the zillionth time. I figure Googling me is sort of like running a background check. Afterwards, a stranger whom I might want to be something more will know I'm legit and not a deranged ax murderer. I can't say I've never resorted to Googling a new acquaintance myself; nor can I say that a new acquaintance has ever suggested I do so. I wonder how turned off I'd be.

I once worked with a guy at Us Weekly who told me that every time a new employee reported to work, he did his homework by Googling them. That was why on my first day, he already knew way too much about me. And this was in 2002, well before people regularly went around doing things like Googling each other. If I hadn't liked my new colleague as much as I did, I probably would have thought he was kind of creepy (which is a realization I eventually came to, about a year into the gig). But I was kind of flattered that he'd taken the time to get to know me before actually getting to know me -- even if he did it for everyone in the office.

As far as I know, it's the last time anyone's ever Googled me unprompted -- which might be even sadder than using "Google me" as a hot new pick-up line. I'll have to remember to Google another one.

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