You could say I’m a very stalk-able person.
Or at least should anyone be interested about me in any way, then it’s as easy as clicking I’m feeling lucky to get the latest scoop on me.
Some online friends of mine like to call this “stalking.” We oft exchange “Hey, I’ve been stalking your (insert favorite social networking or photo sharing site here) account,” on IM or email. That doesn’t mean we’re secretly (and obsessively) following each other physically, but that we’ve been perusing stuff about the other person online.
The Power of Search
The same is probably also true for any person who publishes a blog under his/her own name. Ditto with social networking sites (MySpace, anyone?) and photo galleries, to some extent. Of course any celebrity would have his/her share of the limelight in paparazzi photo galleries, news and online rumour sites, and–gasp–celebrity porn sites (the power of Photoshop! Or sometimes, not.). But with everyone else, it’s not really that difficult to catch the attention of the good ol’ search engines. Mention your name on any Website a few times, and a couple of weeks after, your name would’ve been indexed, especially if the sites they’re on are relatively high-ranking in the eyes of Google, Yahoo! or MSN Search.
And as for social networking sites, well, you generally won’t be difficult to find, especially if your network’s the friend-of-a-friend type, where people can chance upon your profile through another person’s contact list, particularly through common friends or acquaintances.
Not for Everyone
Lately I’ve been looking up online on old classmtes, acquaintances, school-mates, old colleagues, and old friends. I’m quite surprised at the low turnout, particularly with queries on people whom I thought should have considerable Web presence by now. I tried Web searches, “online stalking” tools (like Stalkerati) and even scouring most of the popular social networking sites and mailing list archives, but I usually come up with nada, zilch, zarro!
Whereas a search on my name or even my known nicknames would give you hundreds of pages on Google (Google says I have about 20,00 page results for my name, while “John C. Dvorak” has over 2 million), some of my contacts have disappeared under the radars of the Internet’s search mechanisms altogether.
What surprises me is that some of those people I’m having difficulty searching had been quite active in the online world even before the popularity of the Internet as we know it now. Back in my BBSing days, I have a handful of contacts who were in various IT fields–only a very few of them are now active online.
With this I sometimes tend to wonder on why some people are not so accessible online. It’s probably the norm for the average person to just go unmentioned and unnoticed by online searches. However, one way or another people are likely to be mentioned, say in obituaries, announcements of passing Board (medicine, engineering, etc.) or Bar (law, of course) examinees in one’s region, or even blogged about by others.
Still, some elude the reach of good ol’ Google. And I could think of a few possible reasons.
They’re hiding. From me! Those people probably know that people like me would be tracing their every step online, and had decided to hide by changing their identities.
(For the ladies) They got married and adopted their husbands’ surnames. Okay, this is a pretty drastic move just to avoid being found online.
They’re no longer among the living. Hey, this is pretty drastic, too.
They really would rather not go online. They’re not techie enough to go setting up profiles and going online. What? Life without the Internet? That sucks!
They think social networking sites suck! Well, sometimes I do, too. I mean, people who dig MySpace and Friendster profile layouts and design probably need a conk on the head.
If all else fails, it would perhaps be best to ask common friends or acquaintances what the heck had happened to that lady who caught your eye in grad school, or that beauty whom you professed your undying love to back in middle school.
I’m probably most generous to my online stalkers, in terms of the availability of information they coulld lift off my online profile pages and blog. You could even get my mobile number online. But that’s different, though, for some people prefer to be available for contact. It’s like opening shop for a brick-and-mortar business.