I just read this article from the NY Times about people who look for other people with the same name on the Internet. The name for the people you find who have the same name as you are called “Googlegangers” (the “a” is supposed to have an umlaut over it, but I can’t figure out how to do that and don’t want to spend the time).

Much of the article is about the attraction that people have to people like them: names, birth dates, ethnic group. It also mentions that there can be a kind of rivalry among people with the same name; it mentions a Jon Lee who wants to be the first Jon Lee to turn up in a Google search trying to stay “ahead” of other people with his name.

I’ve never met anyone with the same name as I have, and if I ever search for my name on Google (which, I’ll admit, I’ve done), I’m the only one. It probably comes from having a Dutch last name that isn’t incredibly popular, and a first name with Hebrew origins that (according to this web site) ranked a lowly 388th among most popular boy’s name in the United States in 2006 (What was the most popular one? Jacob).

I have the opposite of affinity with people with the same name as me, I think. I’ve got a lot invested in being unique, and if I were to suddenly find another “Elliot Ritzema” out there, I think I’d be disappointed.


4 thoughts on “Googlegangers

  1. There is another Jennifer Steensma. She teaches art at Calvin. One time I went to Meijer to get a perscription and got her meds instead. I also got a bill in the mail – forwarded from Calvin – with 100s of dollars in photo developing chemicals. I also had a call from Old Kent bank that they could not close my account because I had a CD from them – only it was hers. I should have just cashed in that one.
    Good thing I changed my name.

  2. I wonder if there are any other “Mary Nelsons” out there? Oh, wait…there are at least six in Bellingham alone. I guess that’s what happens when you have a very traditional and biblical first name and a common Scandinavian surname. I let go of the ideal of “individuality” when it comes to my name a long time ago.

  3. We ‘josh wall’s are abounding.

    Oddly enough though Elliot there is some specific word (one of those made up words that combines ‘google’ and other bits) for people in your situation, which is to say when you type your name in you are the only person mentioned. (I looked for a bit and lo and behold, its only you.) You’re quite rare… feel …errr… honored?

  4. “Elliot” is the French form of “Elijah,” so Hebrew really got around when it came to name influence.

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