Go to Google.com and search your name. What comes up in the search results is in part a large reflection of your online presence. When I searched “Jordan Bratt,” I was surprised to find that little to nothing was returned that had to do with me. Other than my LinkedIn profile picture that came up in the suggested Google Images search, there were some white pages entries and a Facebook search page with my name on it. However another Jordan Bratt showed up a lot. This other Jordan must have spent some time working on his online presence because on the first page of the Google search results alone he had his LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile, Pinterest page, his faculty page at a community college, and a white pages entry. Ultimately, I was severely out done in my online presence.
My reaction to the search results vary. Part of me is fine with my minimal online presence shown through a Google search. I am well aware that I am an avid user of the internet. I am a consumer of social media, the news, various elements of school websites, Netflix, and other sites. In part, I can accept and welcome this level of privacy. However, as it was pointed out to me by my professor, there is a difference between privacy and visibility. While I want to maintain my privacy, I should want to increase my online visibility. Though this Google search does not define my online presence, it does gauge my visibility in a way that I should be concerned with.
The search results page showed me that I do not have an online ownership of my name. It is an interesting and almost unsettling thought. My name is not my own and in some ways less my name than this other Jordan character. Prior to this class, I never spent any energy to own my name. I just used it and always thought of it as my own. This topic is reminding me of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible when John Proctor is charged with witchcraft and he cries out “I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” Now, in a much less dramatic way than the Crucible, I have recognized that my name is less my own and that I must put forth effort to own my online name/presence.
Going forward, my online presence needs to be a true reflection of myself. I have had a LinkedIn profile and Facebook profile for a while now. Since starting the Ph.D. program here at George Mason, I have created a Twitter account, Github account, this website and an account on Academia.edu. While I don’t plan on just creating a multitude of accounts to increase my presence, I do plan on using these sites to their fullest and most rewarding sense. I need to actively seek out ways to express my academic work, interests and goals online. As my online presence becomes more mature and developed, it will be become a great blessing to my professional self throughout my life. It has become a goal of mine to be able to Google search myself and find sites or articles related to me. Furthermore, I want to find sites and articles that I intend to be visible while not finding things I wish to keep private.