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Searching For Ourselves

Akshay Patil

Searched the Web for “Akshay Patil.” Results 1-10 of about 25. Search took 0.03 seconds.

You know you do it. It’s okay; we all do it too. For some reason, there’s just some inherent urge many of us have to type our names into a search engine and marvel at what we find. What other people with our names have been up to. Coming across old guestbook entries from 1996 that for some obscene reason appear as the most relevant result to your search even though you have a Web site dedicated to the glory of you.

Some of us more self-centered individuals also have that sense of anger that comes from searching for your name and having the first search result come back with a page about someone else with your name. That unclean illegitimate child ... what makes them more important that you? I understand your pain, for I too am a victim of such angst. Over the years, I have battled for the sacred spot of most relevant result with some business major in Virginia; for many years he was the champion, relegating me to my oppressive, sub-relevant search results. But through tireless efforts, I have emerged victorious. Sure, some may question the validity of my triumph. So what if I coerced friends into linking to my site? So what if I registered my Web site on Google? All is fair when it comes to being king of the search results. What was infuriating was that for many moons my most powerful weapon, my homepage, did not even appear in the results page. How was I to emerge a Web site leader when the search engines refused to recognize my little corner of the universe? It was annoying, aggravating, and utterly pointless. Should I have really cared? Were there staggering numbers of people in this world who were desperately trying to find information about me but were instead unable to discover my Web site, thinking instead that I’m concentrating in Finance and Marketing at the University of Richmond? I should think not. But for some strange reason, I still cared.

For the poor bored souls out there, an entertainment tip: you can learn a lot about your friends when you run a search, as I sometimes do when I’m utterly bored. Who would have known that she had a ThinkQuest Web site on genetics? Or that he used to post on SlashDot? It’s a strange strange world we live in, and once it’s on the Web, it’s there forever (assuming, of course, no one ever takes the site down -- not that they’d ever do something like that).

It almost makes you feel sorry for those people with “normal names,” the ones that come back with 2,000+ results, none of them relevant. They may never know the joy of being able to type their name into that little box, hitting return, and seeing a page of links somehow related to them. Instead, Google comes back with a page full of tales about namesakes who are apparently far more interesting than they are. Maybe they will someday feel a greater sense of triumph, having overcome a far more imposing hurdle. But it’s a site-eat-site world out there, and I don’t envy your egotistical task.

The Internet is a vast place. Knowing that there’s a little bit of it somehow related to you can be comforting. But most importantly, there is the eternal joy of victory I still carry with me since the day I triumphantly found my name at the top of Google’s search results. And on that day of glory, the urgent masses who had been vainly searching for my Web site finally succeed. But one cannot grow complacent. I continue to fight so that one day the time will come when the entire first page of search results will center around me. When that day comes, I will become a grand master of the Internet, and all shall bask in the glory of my conquest. That, or Akshay Patil of the University of Richmond is going to drive up here and beat me to a lifeless, nerdy pulp.