To google, or not to google?

Last week I created a Twitter poll for the students I teach in a second year course at Deakin University, ALC203: Exploring Digital Media: Contexts of Online Participation. For the first four weeks of this unit, we’ve been asking students to consider their online presence, persona, and participation. 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’ve been speaking to many of my close friends over the past few weeks, many of whom are also early-career researchers,  in the age general age range of 24-30. The first question I have asked is, “Have you googled yourself lately?” For the most part, these friends are all over it, as budding academics, and sessional staff teaching undergraduate students, we’re aware of how important having a positive and productive online persona is. In fact, it’s almost a requirement.

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 was testament enough to why we all should be thinking about our online selves. Do you want potential employers finding those awkward angled Myspace photos?

On the 6th of April, the twitter poll I posed to my students, 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 we did in class together was to google ourselves. 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 by nature, and google allows us to find virtually anything, in seconds. I had a discussion with a pal the other day about how the word ‘google’ is used more regularly as a verb rather than a noun. Instead of search, check, find, seek, look, it’s become “just google it” or “Gimme a sec, I’ll google it”. This is applicable to not only recipe conversions, or random historical facts, but also to people. 

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.



1 thought on “To google, or not to google?”

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