Googling Yourself



Story by Zian Ang

Don’t worry, you are not alone in this – Googling your own name is not as narcissistic as it seems.

More often than not – if you don’t own a common name, that is – you’d find your social media profiles listed on the first page of Google’s search results. Not for Elizabeth Pennock, though.

Pennock is in her junior year as a creative producing major, the lead student coordinator of the student union and fitness center, and also a member of Delta Kappa Alpha, the professional cinema fraternity, but Google tells her otherwise.

Wind back to her freshman year in college when her curiosity led to a search of her own name on Google, “Who the hell is this?” was all she could mutter as she scrolled through links, pictures and live videos of an old couple performing blues on stage. Turns out, she shared the same name as the singer and pianist of Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues, a husband and wife blues duo based in Florida.

Not long after, Pennock’s cousin posted a link onto her Facebook wall. With “Who Is The Real Liz Pennock?” as its headline, it was a website with her current Facebook profile picture beside a picture of Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues. “The author was going through all these information like “The girl on the left is not the real Liz Pennock” or “She doesn’t play any music instruments”,” Pennock said. “It was so weird, like who would take the time to do this?” 

In addition to getting follow requests on her Twitter handle @lizpennock by older jazz fans, Pennock once got an email from the band’s manager, who requested for a like on the band’s Facebook fan page. “I’d love to go to one of her shows and be like “Hey, I’m Liz Pennock too”,” she said.

As for Rebecca Black, well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.

The sociology major was caught off guard when she first watched ‘Friday’, a hit single by teen singer Rebecca Black that went viral online for its subpar production value, overly auto-tuned sound and absurd lyrics. The teen singer was an overnight YouTube sensation, and her music video – which has racked up to 78 million views today – was dubbed the “worst music video ever” by music critics. Kim Kardashian certainly did not break the Internet like she did.

“The next day, it was everywhere. People were posting on my Facebook telling me it was Friday,” she said. “It’s been four years now, and I honestly haven’t lived that down.” 

There were bound to be consequences for sharing the same name as America’s favorite joke of the year. “I got a lot of weird Facebook friend requests from people I didn’t know, like people I have no friends in common with,” Black said. “People will be messaging me “Are you the girl from the Friday video?” and I just stopped replying because I got annoyed.

"If anything, it’s a good conversation starter now, because people remember my name.” she added.

The same happened for sophomore English major Miles Furuichi, who found out the existence of a city in Japan named after his last name. 

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in May of 2013, 56% of American Internet users have used a search engine to look up their own name to see what information is available about them online, an increase from 22% who had done that back in 2001. 

Considering the vastness of information that could be presented to anyone with just a simple search on Google, college students should be more aware of what they post online.

“We’re in Orange County and there are myriad points of view, so it makes sense to be more reserved and try to understand before you shoot off of your mouth, especially if you don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Dr. Kenneth Murphy, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs at the Argyros School of Business and Economics. “On the Internet, there is no filter and you can’t take back what you had sent, and you’re not arguing with somebody in the face to see how bad you’re making them feel.

Coupled with the fact that it’s instantaneous, those are a dangerous mix,” he added.

But does this restriction of freedom when it comes to online content apply to every student equally?

While Bryce Ikemura, Vice President of pledge education in business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi thinks it is “equally important for business and art majors to maintain clean profiles on social media respectively,” sophomore screen acting major Aurelio De Anda Jr. disagreed. 

“I think there is a difference because stereotypically as business majors, in mine and society’s opinion, it is more required of them to be more professional,” said De Anda Jr. “Whereas as an artist, I can put up inappropriate stuff if that’s what I want to be labeled as, and have more liberty in what I do or say because I express my creativity through that.”

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