Her Bad Mother

Monday, July 14, 2008


The other night I did something that I had never done before: I Googled myself.

(No, seriously, I'd never done it, not once. Seriously. Because, you know, I'd heard you could go blind from it.)

Here's the thing about Googling yourself: once you start, you can't stop. Even when you go through a page of Google listings that have nothing to do you - I share my name, apparently, with numerous Irish women of the 19th century, and at least one high school sophomore in Chicago with a distinguished record in middle-distance running - it's fascinating. And it's all the more fascinating when you hit pages upon pages of links to references to yourself. Look - there's me mentioned in the Globe And Mail! There's my AlphaMom interview! There's my first peer-reviewed academic article! There's that cheesy essay about being Prime Minister that I wrote as an undergrad! Look, everyone: my 15 (fractions of) gigabytes of fame!

It is, in some respects, I suppose, the 21st century equivalent of rifling through a shoebox of mementos - the newspaper clippings that your mom collected and kept in a ragged file folder, the tattered certificates of achievement, that undergraduate essay that got published, somewhere, the picture of your graduating class - except that the things you find aren't things that you've saved - they're things that the Internet has saved. The virtual detritus of an unfamous but not entirely obscure life. Which makes it a little surreal. I came across that aforementioned undergraduate essay, along with a handful of professional academic articles, a lot of blog-related miscellany and an assortment of virtual newspaper clippings about awards and speeches and the various whatnots of an overfunctioning young woman trying to prove herself in a world that records bits and pieces of that life in code, and holds it out for anyone to see.

That Google search revealed, in some small and completely messed up way, an index of my life (and, of course, my blog life, which may or may not be the same thing) as it has been captured on the virtual screen. It is, for better or for worse, my biography as it appears to the virtual world. So I thought, why not use it to introduce myself? It is, after all, BlogHer week, and we should really be trying to get to know each other, better, no? And what better way to get to know a blogger than through her online profile? Herewith, then - Five Things That You Can Learn About Me Through Google:

1) Despite my protestations to the contrary, I am Tracy Flick. Rather, I was Tracy Flick, once upon a time. I am so not kidding. My career as an undergraduate was one long exercise in look how good I am! I am smart! And a good person! OMG I can totally save the world!

2) It was kind of sweet, though. I meant well. Also, I figured that if I played my cards right, I could be Prime Minister.

3) But then I decided that I hated politics, and committed myself to the pursuit of the philosophic life. In the pursuit of which, I embraced misanthropy, and publicly (academically) defended Hannibal Lector as a tragic Rousseauan figure. I'm still proud of that, as I am for having, in my first peer-reviewed book review, called out Erich Segal for writing what is possibly the worst book on comedy (v.v. the history of classical thought) ever written in the history of the world, ever.

4) Misanthropy gets old fast, though, so I turned my professional interests to love, sex and virtue in the history of political philosophy. Because, you know, love and sex are much more fun to think and write about than are grumpy, bourgeois-hating old men who may or may not indulge in a little cannibalism. Which brought me around to the field of academic research that I stuck with, which was women - and specifically motherhood - in the history of political philosophy. How did I get from misanthropic critiques of bourgeois liberalism to motherhood? Basically, this: they are, if done properly, the same thing.

5) Which brought me here, to the state of being and creating that is Her Bad Mother. Here - the domain of my Bad Motherness, Badtopia, Badmotherlandia, the Badlands - speaks for itself, I think. But if you're new to HBM, and don't feel like spending hours reading the archives, or if you just want a refresher on what I look and sound like (I am so much more, after all, than just words on a screen) Google offers you this HBM Live With LeahPeah On AlphaMom TV moment:

It's two years old, but I haven't really changed all that much. At all, really. So there you go. Just look for the blond bobbed, recovering-Tracy-Flick-with-babe-in-arms in San Francisco. That'll be me.

(Um, hey? You should totally do this too! GoogleHer yourself! You know, for fun and edification.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy Ghost -- "15...gigabytes of fame" is GENIUS. I'm stealing it. Well, not stealing. I'll give you credit. But it's entering the lexicon TODAY.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

This is an awesome idea.

And guess who has two thumbs and dropped out of UofT Philosophy and Political Science in 1996. This guy right here :}

I had to see about a girl.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Carolyn...Online said...

Nice Good Will Hunting reference backpacking dad.

This may show up twice, my computer is being such a bitch today.

My married name came up with nothing but some other chick who had a son named THOR. I love that!

My maiden name 'Tempel' brought up my blog and a comet hurdling towards earth, which is awesome, and several obituaries where I'm mentioned.

I am Thor and astrophysics and death.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I did a post about this waaaay back in the day. While I would re-write a lot of the dialog, the links and photos are still quite amusing.

Apparently, the name Loralee is a favorite amongst romance novelists and Satan worshipers.

It's also fairly unusual and so I get contacted by other Loralee's that Google themselves. (I think I'm up to the 40's at this point.)

Hours of Google fun, believe you me.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Angie McCullagh said...

You people are pop culture savants.

1:43 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

I just googled myself and discovered that an actress has stolen my name and there is a drug rehab named after me. Seriously.

My life is complete.

Oh and hair grew on the back of my hands after I gone done and googled myself so now you owe me a waxing.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had a google alert set to my name for several years. Then I get an email when anything is printed about Bonnie Sayers. Turns out there is a Politician with same name and she googled our name and found me and wanted some comments deleted at an opinion site, so we contacted mgmt to get it done.

it is good to do to see if anyone is using your content without permission and then send them a cease and desist ltr. Also there is copyscape to check your links.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

This post is so funny for me. I Googled you way back when I first discovered blogging and was kind of stalkery obsessed with you. :) I haven't followed your links yet, but I can dimly recall a lot of them.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Bea is so funny. I did that too. The Internet was simpler then :-)

Also, I am going to bet right now that we alllllll share a name with fantastically gifted high school athletes. That's the kind of thing that always makes it up on the internet, full names. And I have a kind of a weird name, as you know: and yet? high school teachers and start athletes share my name. Weeeeeeiiiird.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Maddy said...

My brother warned me about that addiction so I've kept well away.

I like Bonnie's tip too - never even occurred to me!


3:00 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Ha! Well, I know I'm not the only kittenpie out there, oddly enough, but may try this if I get a moment...

6:31 PM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

um...yeah. i googled myself once and discovered i share a name with a certain lady who provided sexual favors to a certain district court judge in arkansas...

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering the fact that I was named after an actress and country-western movie star, my name comes up everywhere. What really horrified me though was seeing my name, MY REAL name, come up in association with a name I used on air back in the good old days of being a DJ. And here I thought I was so careful. Not so much I guess.

Google can be addictive...next time you have a sec, enter Tracy needs into the Google search field and enjoy a giggle or two at what it comes up with. Apparently Audrey needs a good thumping! Yeah, my hubby probably agrees!

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a very common name and share my name with a 19-year-old porn star (who has been 19 for the last six years btw) from Canada. I can't even get to listing about me because apparently porn gets a lot more hits than just some mom from the Midwest. Urgh...

10:04 PM  
Blogger Carrie S said...

You have a lovely accent! I have a pretty common name and am pretty much the opposite of Tracy Flick, so the stuff out there on Google makes me think I need to do a lot more if I want to make an impact on the world.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Espresso Mom said...

Ok, so I have to admit. I didn't read your entire post. However, I've googled myself before and haven't come up with nearly as exciting results as you. Besides, I like the video. ;)

10:28 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I've Googled myself before. Amazingly, most of the links refer to me, thanks to my unusual last name. And many of them? A wee bit embarrassing, because I was once an idealistic young woman who didn't always think things through.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...


I Google myself now and again because I know that people from other teams at work might do it before we have a first meeting. Most of my first page listings are about dance rather than work, so that probably confuses them lots.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Too funny..I wrote my own post on exactly this- googling myself!-just a couple of weeks ago! (the many faces of Laura Phelps)

And I also happen to love Tracy Flick...

2:56 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

I googled my real name and what did I get? Links to our church newsletter.
Now I am slightly depressed.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Neil said...

I never google myself, because I don't want to know. For me, it is safer to be ignorant.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I hate googling myself because right at the top is this crappy article about me written by a student who didn't bother to fact check and made it seem like I practically invented electricity and penned the Iliad.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well i doubt if there would be anything but it sounds like an interesting way to pass an afternoon.so maybe i will google my name.you have a very pleasant voice catherine and those early pics of wonderbaby are so adorable.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did, I'm a nobody. But the other 'that girl's are very accomplished.

11:53 AM  
Blogger em v said...

Well this is kind of off-topic but coming from someone (me) who was a smart girl who developed an allergy to achievement in my university days (and it kills me now), I sure wish I had worked so hard and got straight A's and wrote award winning essays and did stuff to try and save the world. You're self-deprecating about your youth, but that's a pretty impressive record.

In contrast, anytime you need to know what happened on Y&R circa 1990-92, just ask... (yeah, groan.)

3:06 PM  
Blogger The Domesticator said...

Hmmm.... I guess I'd better check myself out.

I've got to tell you....watching that video of you makes me so want to meet you ;-)

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first starting blogging under my pseudonym, I discovered that the same name is used by a woman who does porn. I felt so successful as a blogger the day that my blog finally ranked above her in google results.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Carmen said...

Ok, I did it.

Thanks for the nudge.

Carmen, Mom to the Screaming Masses

11:41 PM  
Blogger TZT said...

I did it too. I do it regularly, for work reasons, but I never thought much about it before.


11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to give up googling myself after reading of my demise.

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the day, if I googled my name I was 95% of the dozen or so hits. Now? There are pages and pages of hits and I'm only a few of them. Too many whippersnappers with my name online now.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know have a question - do all blgogers sound alike? It's disturbing because I could nearly-swear that I could've delivered this interview - in the exact same tone.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Joy! said...

Heehee! I've had much the same experience... except once some people who'd never met me, hired me for a job, googled me and found all kinds of random things unrelated to the field, which apparently freaked them out (?? nothing bad, just different sides of me).

I was "forced" to get a MySpace page with my real name on it so that when people googled me, they'd have something pertinent to look at. The idea was that interested parties could focus on my highly entertaining presentation/persona rather than the other political/social/highly personal stuff.

I don't put my real name out there any more if I can help it, but alas, public records/news accounts never die. Now if I could only get rid of that HS athlete. :)

5:02 PM  

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