- Entertainment and Media
Control What The Internet Says About You, or not.
No news is good news
So you write a bunch of stuff and you comment insightfully on current events via your verified Twitter account and about 42 WordPress blogs. You fervently crave for the world to know you, but on your terms. You're demanding, witty, snarky, erudite, and sincere, often at the same time. You're a writing machine. Grammatically correct sentences trickle from the tips of your fingers like dollars from labor unions to Democrats.
Yet, somehow, the Internet has a bad impression of you. Someone is always finding embarrassingly unretouched photos of that epic Spring Break in Kokomo when you almost tied the peanuts-up-the-nose world record. Somehow every potential employer eventually learns about your deluded attempts to duck your student loans by living in the camping department at Sears. All this unwanted publicity has become a problem. Even your parole officer doesn't know who you are anymore.
You need to take control.
Online is a mean place if you're not exceedingly careful. Chris Hansen waits at every turn, promising cookies and handcuffs. You need to control what the Internet says about you. When you turn out the lights and climb into your Hello Kitty pajamas from Goodwill, you need to sleep the sleep of peace. You can't be fretting over what the Internet says.
Change your name
Consider a name change. Don't put too much thought into it. A complex and unpopular name such as Alistair Eisenschuz is a recipe for disaster, and it's literally impossible to find it on those personalized key-chains at Cracker Barrel. You always appear on the first page of Google.
Hide in plain sight. What you need is a commonplace name. Pick a name like "George Bush": you won't show up in the first 1000 pages of any search engine query. Everyone named George Bush hides in plain sight, thanks in part to the escapades of someone who grew up with that name.
Pay someone to search for you
If a name change proves problematic because you are easily recognized at the courthouse, consider contracting with someone to scrub your reputation. Enlist cadres of well-meaning information workers to toil for you. Contract with a chap to edit that pesky Wikipedia page describing your first 7 marriages. Hire a hacker who will haunt blogs from his parent's basement, sanitizing every mention of your so-called career before federal regulatory agencies can execute screen captures and search warrants.
Prop up your story
Everyone believes what they read on a web site: use this little-known fact to your advantage. Write good stuff about yourself. Post messages extolling yourself in the third person. Create accounts on gMail, HotMail, AOL Mail, ZoHo Mail, iCloud Mail, Yahoo Mail, FastMail, and Bob the Mail. Send mail to yourself about yourself, then forward it to CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and Sports Illustrated.
All these reputable companies have reputable web sites that cry for reputable content: they will love to hear from you and your own personal story that no one will dispute. The Internet will say nice things about you. Your reputation will be ensconced in the reinforced concrete of truth.
If all else fails, consider legal action
Sue the Internet. If the Internet can't be controlled regarding what it says about you, file papers at the courthouse (wear a fake beard if necessary) and kick back to wait for Oprah to call. Expect invitations from all the major network morning news magazines and also Good Morning America. Infotainment shows eat this stuff up. Serve them a big sloppy ladle of your sad story. Take a real attorney with you: suitable candidates regularly queue up near the studio. A lawyer dressed in a tailored snakeskin suit gives you instant cachet with the kind of people who watch those shows. Taking control of what the Internet says about you is only a few live TV appearances away. You also get a tote bag.
The Choice is yours
Grab your reputation with both hands and squeeze it until the truth drips out. Our Internet needs a villain but it doesn't have to be you. Don't be the unsympathetic antihero left without a chair when the figurative music stops playing. Deploy the digital weapons at your disposal to control all that the Internet wants to say about you.