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In search of fame 

Lezlie Lowe plays the name game online.

I Google myself all the time.

Nothing dirty. It’s just searching my name on Google.ca. Though admitting it feels kind of like letting the cat out of the bag on chronic masturbation. And it’s a similar activity, really — fuelled by self-love, simmered in a feeling of shame that’s, if you’ll pardon the pun, bred in the bone.

I tell myself not to feel bad about it, the Googling, that is. But as much as I strain not to feel disgrace at the act, I do. Why else would I spend so much time justifying it? Oh, the contrivances! It’s a work thing; I need to make sure no one’s re-printing my writing without paying me for it. It’s a control thing; I need to defend myself when I get trashed in someone’s blog. It’s a finger-on-the-pulse thing; I need to see who’s using excerpts of stuff I’ve written for their press clippings.

Codswallop. It’s really all about fame. Or want thereof.

A reliable barometer of fame, my friend Audra says, is to figure out the number of people talking about you who don’t know you. And short of becoming an omniscient hearer of all spoken gossip (oh! the delight!), the internet is the best tool we 15-degrees-of-separation-from-even-Don McKellar have.

I love to see my name crop up in a Google search. Love it. And it’s a greater thrill when it’s a new or unknown link. Sure, thecoast.ca is fine and all, but it behooves me to admit that I grin more at my laptop screen by checking (repeatedly) a kindly nod I got on Air America Place — the daily news blog for lefty talk radio station Air America Radio — for an anti-Bush rant I did on CBC Radio One. Rapturous, too, is a reference on Canadian-based Japanese-language blog Superpuppy. Best I can tell, it’s about a Coast column I wrote on doing laundry. (I’ve gleaned the topic from the “help” of the translation robot at Google which reaches, it seems, greater heights of incomprehensibility with every click: “It is the joke human where the Lezlie comes young and the woman, furthermore talks pop culture, dresses stylishly the MAX Mara. The she becomes dirty, the thing two months...the gap!”)

When you’re not famous, this is the best you can get - Googling yourself in the hope that people who don’t know you are talking about you, even if they’re saying things like, “The she becomes dirty, the thing two months...the gap!”

Last week I launched a series of Google Alerts on my name. I get sent an email every time Google notices a new Lezlie posting on the ‘net. I’ve also taken to frequenting the Google Maps page, looking at satellite images of my house. Maybe I can see myself ducking in with groceries. Or petting the cat on the deck. Haven’t yet. Still trying.

This is common practice, surely, self-Googling in search of a daily Warholian 15 minutes of fame. A recent discussion over snacks taught me that most of my friends do it, anyway. And they shared my compulsiveness — addiction? Can I call it that? — for Googling over and over again. That, and the shame. A shame that just skims the surface. Slight. The shame of putting lipstick on at a restaurant table. The shame of vanity. The shame of wanting to be famous when there are so many other better things to wish for.

Indeed, as my Japanese blogger says, “It is the joke human.”

What search engines have you found your name on recently? email your findings to: lezliel@thecoast.ca.

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