04 August 2005

Making Love With Your Ego

Google Your Way to Personal Understanding

Tag can be played with flashlights, freezing, and televisions. It can be played on college campuses with foam guns and e-mails, and it can be played internationally with wire-guided missiles and 500 lb. bombs.

And as many variants as there are of tag, there must by now be just as many different ways of Googling shit and seeing what comes up - spinning a bank of computers in Mountain View CA like it was a roulette wheel. Type your initials into the Google image search – the picture that comes up first says something about you. Find alternate versions of yourself by searching your full name: well-regarded community theatre performers in North Carolina, or Oregon neurosurgeons, or data systems analysts in Chicago.

Here’s another one: Type “[your name] is…” and then pick a dozen or so of the little blurbs you get in the description boxes that come up in the search window. See how the world sees a parade of your alter egos and opposites. It’s quick and pointless, but hidden underneath it is the giddy feeling of looking into versions of yourself and your future, even if this feeling of kinship’s based on nothing more than the same first name. The descriptions have nothing to do with us – they’re separated by geography and profession, they pop up in laudatory speeches and essays, welcome packets and professional websites and reviews and forums – but because at bottom we really, really like mirrors, we imagine them taking place in an odd sort of parallel universe.

There we are, lumped in with Bizarro Superman and Spock With A Goatee, watching another one of us born in Florida instead, graduating from this college instead, praised instead at a regional conference dinner for automotive executives and thanking instead another set of wives or husbands or partners or live-ins. “Jim,” they say - for instance - “is a graduate of the University of North Alabama. One of the best cartoonists in the game today.”

You’ll note I’ve camouflaged the first person in plurals up until now, but there’s a point to all this, isn’t there? – more than just teaching you a new game. Ego isn't in the game for nothing. And so here's mine. Jim is...

'...the Mike Wallace of meteorology.'
'...a Chicago hero who has attracted global attention.'
'...a double-framed walking machine build by Carnegie Mellon Robotics.'
'...a creature of innocence, just like the birds he loves.'
'...a worm whose encounter with a bulky space suit led him to pursue adventures in outer space.'
'...an asshole!!!'
'...a cartoon universe, fantastic and horrifying.'
'...beyond flawed. Many of us felt he should have used the revolver on himself instead of on the assassins.'
'...an ex-con turned private detective.'
'...among the masterpieces of the French New Wave.'
'...with the Phantoms today after playing four seasons with Red Deer.'
'...an avid rollerblader who enjoys Indian food.'
'...a third generation Lubbockite and a graduate of Monteray High School.'
'...shooting these days with a D100.'

"He is also noted for hosting 'Over Easy' on PBS with Mary Martin."

No comments: