Do you ever Google yourself? If not, I congratulate you on having no egotistic curiosity. But if you do, welcome. I believe you are in good company. I Google myself on a regular basis and no, I don’t think I have a problem with severe narcissism. I do it to see if the blog you are currently reading shows up in my results, which it doesn’t. Apparently I have much to learn about the blogosphere, because unless I get extremely specific—like putting in the name of the blog, my name, my grandmother’s first name, the name of my first cat, the dorm I lived in at college, and my cousin’s dog’s name—the internet can’t seem to find this blog. Like I said, I really have to study up on existing in the blog world.
But if you are one of those Google-yourself kind of people, do you ever wonder how the internet missed so much? Like where is the reference to my best-selling book? How come there is no article about me being cat mom of the year? Where is the part about how I saved a spider from certain death by asking him to walk onto a piece of paper so I could transport him outside? Okay, so only the last one of those is actually true, but you get the picture.
So I guess that brings me to my ultimate question: what would you like Google—the entire internet, for that matter—to say about you when you are no longer here to read it? What will your cyber footprint be when your feet are no longer walking the path of life? This is different, of course, from your obituary. There, only good things and relevant details will be shared as your family controls the narrative. But nobody controls the internet; it’s just a collection of postings, mentions, articles published, awards won, and maybe, if you are lucky, blog posts. What kinds of things will come up when someone types in your name? How many Facebook tags of proud events and goofy selfies will show up? Or will there be more?
What about those things you may still want to do that won’t appear on an internet search? Do you want to see all fifty states? Visit Austria? See a polar bear in his natural habitat? Watch a puffin hop around? See the Taj Mahal? Or do you simply want to spend more time with your loved ones? Raise kind and loving children. Perhaps you have already accomplished things that are important to you. Maybe your children have grown and you have left a high-stress, high-paying job to work with special needs children. Perhaps you are traveling as much as you can while you are still able to. Maybe you have half of a book written, waiting for you to commence with finessing the details and writing the thus-far unwriteable parts. Perhaps it is a simple matter of dropping a decades-old facade of niceness and finally letting the real you emerge. Google has no way of knowing any of this. But you do.
But I think there is a deeper question here: what will Google miss about your life? About you as a human being? What qualities would the ultimate Google search fail to list? Are you kind to people? Do you make friends with every cat you meet? Do you listen—really listen, with both ears and eye contact—when someone is talking to you? And if you have not yet cultivated those qualities, what are you waiting for? I don’t have to tell you that life is short. We all know this. I don’t have to encourage you to live your best life, pursue you passion, or make your dreams come true. I think you probably want to do this already. But there is a good chance you’re not doing these things and that a final Google search of your life—and I’m including those qualities Google doesn’t know about here—will not reflect all that you hoped to be. The these are the things that will cause regret.
Perhaps it is time for all of us—me included—to pursue long dormant dreams, drop the disease-to-please window dressing on our selves, and step into being the people we would like others to remember when there is nothing left of us but photos on phones and remnants of a life not fully lived. I know I’ve got work to do, and if you do as well, join me as we travel ever onward to the life we truly want.