To google, or not to google?

In the first four weeks of units I teach on Digital Media at Deakin University we ask students to consider their online presence, persona, and current participation in the online space. Given contemporary society’s total emergence in digital culture these kind of concerns are vital, in both a personal and professional sense.

I believe these discussions are applicable to not only the students in this course, but to anyone who is presenting themselves or engaging online. I regularly ask friends, family, colleagues, and of course, students, “Do you google yourself?”

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‘Search’ by Pleuntje (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The act of googling one’s self is not narcissistic (as a few students have mentioned to me thus far), but rather it’s essential. The sighs of embarrassment that echoed around my various classrooms as they search (and find!) is testament enough to why we all should be thinking about our online selves carefully and critically. Do you want potential employers finding those awkward angled Myspace photos (guilty), or obnoxious tweets about coffee and philosophy (also guilty). On the 6th of April, I posed a twitter poll to my students that asked, how often do you google yourself?

As you can see, I did not give students the option to choose ‘never’ as one of the first activities I always do in class is to actually get students to google themselves. This poll received 74 votes, with 91% of users indicating that they google themselves monthly. 

The second twitter poll asked how often do you google other people?:

I had 83 votes in this poll, and although the results weren’t quite as distinctly different as the first poll, 45% of students responded that they google other people weekly. 23% said monthly, 16% said daily, and the other 16% responded with never.

So what does this tell us? Well, for one, we google other people more than we google ourselves. Significantly more it seems. Many of us are curious (or stalkers) by nature and google allows us to find virtually anything, especially people, in seconds.

So why is this important to think about? Well, if we google other people weekly, or even daily, what does this tell us about the potential amount of times other people are googling us? Weekly? Daily? Monthly? It’s well known that many employers do google searches before interviewing a potential candidate, and (as I heard from a few in-class discussions last week), during interviews.

I have some personal experience with this:

I was offered one of the teaching jobs I currently have, by the unit chair / media lecturer / fellow dog fanatic / all around cool guy, Adam Brown, as a result of my online persona. As you can see from Adam’s tweet, he googled me before hiring me, and it made *the* difference.

As future professionals, (or current professionals), it’s important to ask, what do you want people to know about you? How do you want to be perceived? As the second poll indicated, the majority of us google other people regularly. Perhaps this is because we want to connect, maybe we want to have a little lurk, or maybe we just generally want to know more about them. So again I ask, how do you want people to view you? This can and will help you. This is a simple, active task, and something that you have control over. Take charge – go ahead, get googlin’!

**Thanks to everyone who participated in the twitter poll, and Adam, I suppose, for hiring me.

Header Image: 

‘Search’ by Pleuntje (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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