Now, something a little bit more unsettling has occurred. It seems a certain well-known mentalist/paranormalist/magician who shall go unnamed in this post in case he's still Googling himself, found a post I'd written several months ago that mentioned him, and decided to email me about it. It was a nice email, flattering my blog in the beginning, saying I'd made keen observations on his routine and noting that I'd tried to be objective. Taking a bit of a wounded tone, however, he then mentioned some sources I'd referred to that indicated an organization he is affiliated is a nefarious, pseudo-religious group for the purpose of making its leader rich and powerful. He said that wasn't his experience, and he'd be happy to "dialogue" with me, to better represent himself authentically.
As in the previous case, my first reaction to this was "how did this person find my little corner of self-indulgent chatter?" We all know that Google (and other search engines) and Technorati have made it possible to find thousands of instances of certain words one is seeking. However, the fact that these people are able to find my obscure blog this way is not just impressive ("wow - Google really can find anything") and alarming ("yikes - guess my little rants aren't as under-the-radar and anonymous as I thought") but somewhat telling.
I say telling for two reasons. One, it shows that the folks writing me are actively looking to see what information is drifting about the Intrawebs about themselves. It's something most of us do at one point or another, but one has to be especially circumspect to find a minor outpost of the blogosphere like mine, which proves a certain hyper-vigilance. Two, it is telling because of the search terms they would have to enter to find my posts that referred to them. In the mentalist's case, for example, if you search for his name on Google, my blog doesn't seem to come up - at least for the first ten pages of results I bothered perusing. But, run a search for his name and the word "cult"? It's right there on the first page. Very interesting.
I mean, does someone search for the word "cult" attached to their name because they've been unfairly associated with that word, or do they search for that word with their name because they are affiliated with a cult and that information has been posted before on the Internet? It's a little chicken and egg, but it's a curious quandary, and it brings me to my next reaction to these emails: "why do these people care what I wrote?"
Seriously, both of those posts were throw-away bits in pieces rife with purely subjective opinion on this matter and that - ramblings and rants, if you will. To search for a mention of oneself so thoroughly is one thing, and to take the mention so seriously as to contact the author, however little-known, is another. On the one hand, I can understand the impulse - I'm sure if I found a blog mentioning me I might be tempted to clarify things or say howdy. On the other, I'm not a public figure, so I wouldn't expect to be mentioned, and I imagine if I was a public figure, I'd ignore it or let my PR rep handle it, you know?
I guess my third and final reaction, then, is... just being kind of squicked out. Not only have my toss-away comments been noticed, but these people attempted to communicate about them with me in private. It just seems too personal, somehow. Not to mention, anyone affiliated with a strict religious/spiritual group scares me a bit, anyway, whether it's technically a "cult" or not. When it comes to true believers and my fear of attempted indoctrination, I'm just as wary of priests, imams and rabbis as I am of gurus and "enlightened ones". Hey, organized religion? I'm an equal-opportunity eschewer!
So, yeah. I don't think I'll be answering that email. No offense.
At any rate, all this leads me to one last question I've been pondering, and maybe those of you who regularly visit here can give me your opinions on it. As you know, in the past I worked as an animal communicator, but I don't anymore. My practice and its results were pretty successful, but I gave it up after being overwhelemed with work and stress, plus going through surgery, which seemed to alter my outlook on a lot of things, somehow. Now that I am applying for jobs in more traditional, AKA scientific or hands-on based animal organizations, I've wondered if I should take down my old AC website in case one of my interviewers Googles me, sees it, and thinks I'm a big crank.
The problem here is partially my own ambivalence about my past practice. At this point, I think of myself as neither a strict believer or non-believer in AC. I cannot deny some of the freakishly accurate readings and results I got in my sessions, things I never would imagine. On the other hand, I know that people tend to believe in things mainly because they want to and it's comforting, and I want neither to deceive others nor myself, even unintentionally. I've also been mentally blocked in terms of AC, and whether that is because I'm anxious and unresolved about it or my anxiety is causing the block, I can't say. Another chicken and egg.
My point being, if I thoroughly believed in AC, I probably wouldn't want to "closet myself" by hiding my past, just to get a job. I'd figure that if the interviewer wasn't open to what I'd done, that job wasn't the right one for me. However, if I truly had given up on bellieving in AC, I'd have taken my damn site down, already, and it wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, when it comes to animal behaviourists, advocates and researchers, it's very like religion: you believe in Science or you believe in God (or something spiritual beyond science, at least), and there's little room for anything in-between.
So, what do you think? Take down the old site for now, or leave it up? In the past I've been proud of its design and writing, but now I'm not sure. On the other hand, it's a part of who I've been and am, and it's not like I'm going to be able to erase the Village Voice article on my old career that comes up every time I Google myself. If someone wants to find out what I've been up to, they probably will.
I'll be taking votes and comments. In the meantime, I'll also be making a list of who NOT to blog about, lest they take offense track me down. Can someone confirm the spelling of "Kim Jong-il"?
P.S.: No Thursday Thirteen this week, kiddies. I think this is enough.