Having a short, common name is good for privacy in the internets age. Commonness is about the only protective covering available for those of us on the paranoid side, in fact.  But it’s not without fallout.

Take for example having an email account in your full, common name. On the one hand, people who know you might be able to remember your email easily.  On the other hand, there are people looking for the other people who share your name. 



I’m a Googlegänger.  As humiliating as it to use one of those words coined then toasted with pinot noir by magazine stringers on deadline to fill a column about “cutting edge media culture,” in this case, it’s apt. 



First there was a note from someone’s dad, then invitations to speak at various conferences, a medical x-ray, a contract from a major media company.  Awkward.  Do you write back to the emailers and tell them they’ve got the wrong guy? Do you rummage down the email chain for the correct email address and forward?  Ignore and delete?  What if you delete it and vital medical info doesn’t ultimately reach its destination?  What if you reply, thereby getting someone fired for divulging a confidential deal memo? Read through for embarrassing details? Or forward it to the intended individual like some creepy internet stalker.  There’s only paralyzing indecision…


The scary truth is that it might not even be just the one person. I’ve learned from Google that there’s a blogger, a college basketball coach, an actress/singer/whatever, and lots of other people out there with my same common name.  My email account could become the dead letter office for all these people, and I, like Bartleby, could just lay down and prefer not to…

What would you do if you were a Googlegänger like me?