I'm an egomaniac so I have a Google Alert set-up for "Aaron Goldfarb." Sometimes I try to convince myself that it's not because I'm an egomaniac, that I actually need to monitor online discussions about me just to make sure my brand is well-liked, but that's bullshit. I just like to see what people are saying about me. That's why, it's the worst when I get a Google Alert about some Aaron Goldfarb who isn't me. Like I got this morning.
Back in the late-1990s, before there was Google and Facebook and Twitter, and before even your grandma had an online presence, there was something called the Online White Pages, essentially a massive online phone book. I entered "Aaron Goldfarb" into it one day while sitting in my sophomore dorm room and got back six entries for six different Aaron Goldfarbs across America. Being that I wasn't even one of those, I assumed there were others not listed and there might be, say, 12-20 Aaron Goldfarbs in all of America.
I figured I should at least try to be the best, most famous Aaron Goldfarb of those few dozen.
In the early 2000s I bought the domain aarongoldfarb.com because I'm so arrogant that I assumed I would need it one day.
With nothing significant going on in my life, though, a functioning aarongoldfarb.com was not necessary for the first few years I owned it. So, yes, I was squatting on my own name. I needed money at the time too so if another Aaron Goldfarb quickly got famous I would have probably sold him the domain for the right price.
The first Aaron Goldfarb to become famous, or infamous, actually happened in 1999. Some Maryland fifteen-year-old named, unfortunately, Aaron Goldfarb murdered some fellow teens. He instantly became the #1 Google listed "Aaron Goldfarb" from that point forward. That was really a blow to my name brand and I fretted for weeks that this story would develop some legs. It never did, only once did a person even bring him up to me, though that Aaron Goldfarb did stay at #1 on a Google search of my name for the next decade.*
For the rest of the 2000s, there were other Aaron Goldfarbs online doing cooler stuff than me and appearing higher in Google searches than me:
*An emergency medicine doctor from California.
*Another doctor, this one a pathologist from Michigan. (You're probably not surprised that Aaron Goldfarb is a doctor-y name.)
*A guy who fronts a rock band out of Austin, Aaron and the Polynomials. (It was he who appeared in my Google alert this morning--he seems pretty cool.)
But, since late last year, ever since "How to Fail" came out, I've dominated the Google front page for my...our...name.
I wonder if these other Aaron Goldfarbs ever Google me? I wonder if they've read my book? I wonder if they're angry about me stealing their search engine thunder? I wonder if they've turned off their Google Alerts for "Aaron Goldfarb"?
I wonder if they'd send me an e-mail if I ask them too?
(Speaking of, since I own aarongoldfarb.com, if any other Aaron Goldfarbs e-mail me, I'll gladly issue you a [name]@aarongoldfarb.com e-mail address. Of course, you can't be aaron or aarongoldfarb @aarongoldfarb.com, so I guess you probably wouldn't want one. But, I could probably hook you up with firstname.lastname@example.org or something, which is really lame come to think of it.)
In December of 2010 I finally jumped ahead of the child murderer to hit #1, where I remain on top at the present.
Hopefully another Aaron Goldfarb doesn't ever again do something famous or infamous. Hopefully one of these other Aaron Goldfarbs doesn't try to murder me.
That would surely light up the Aaron Goldfarb search returns.
How about you? Does any one "have" your name?
*UPDATE!: Ha, I shot myself in the foot. By linking to the Aaron Goldfarb murderer, I shot him back to #1 in the Google search. Thus, like a little bitch, I removed the link. How to Fail. Truly.