I googled myself the other day (and it still sounds dirty, after all these years). It is a good practice, I’ve found, like defragging your hard drive after deleting anything and everything not essential to your existence. Wish I could defrag my brain—imagine the luxurious feeling of space, opened by a quick erasure of chunks of the past, memories unhealthy or obscure, then synapses and electric circuits rewired with new, brighter bits and bytes, realigned memories in better order. Imagine—a factory default for brain and body, for mind and soul!
In any case, I like to know what’s online by or about me. It’s not ego—well, mostly, it’s not ego. More like walking a fence line, repairing breaches by varmints of the two-legged variety. It does feel good sometimes to see my name out there, especially attached to something I wrote long ago and have forgotten, a flower pressed in book leaves. Other times, a jolt like a weasel among the chickens. I once encountered a website whose keywords included my name and credentials. I had no affiliation with this outfit that promised writing or editing or teaching—who knows?–at the hands of experienced faculty, etc. Online cuckoos laying false eggs in my nest, my good name incubating their con. Threats of lawyers sent those birds flying. Gall.
The other day, I chanced upon my oldy, mouldy doctoral dissertation. Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! My treasure. Two years of effort, hand-typed on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter with carbon copies and footnotes and unseen agonies. Thousands of hours reading, analyzing, sifting, and synapse-sparking ideas to prove I deserved the highest academic degree, worthy of intellectual note. The proof bound and sentenced to life on a dark university library shelf, unopened, unnoticed, un… It did earn the cherished PhD and even a mention in the MLA Bibliography, but otherwise a forgotten orphan to the storms of life and career. Yet here it was: my name, my work, my lovely mythic analysis, but wait!
Why is this offered on Google Books? Who gave them the right, the power, to copy my words and ideas and sell them—or, worse, give them away—without so much as a halfhearted notice to me? I have, I admit, caverns in my mind, carved by work and stress and illness and pain. However, I hold my copyright like a miser with his one gold coin. It is as important as my good name. So my joy departed, replaced by confusion, suspicion, anger, outrage. How dare they? Last time I checked, I am still alive and compos mentos (mostly). I shall investigate, once the seething urge to toss my laptop at a wall subsides.
This in the same month that Facebook has announced that I can now name my Facebook executor, the person in charge of my Facebook posts after my demise. I don’t know whether to laugh or scream at this doozy! What moron would want his/her Facebook crap to live on ad infinitum? More like ad nauseum. Not me, sister. My executor, poor soul, will see about the proper distribution of my meager estate, including my poetry, prose, art, and pictures. This will not include my Facebook rants. OMG!
Consider this my official announcement to the world:
if when I die, please shred any and all materials posted on Facebook. Period. There is nothing there that should remain. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. [I don’t mention twitter, of course, because I don’t tweet, or more accurately, twit. For it’s my firm belief that only twits twitter. I could be wrong. It’s not for me. I still have a life.]