I have lately done a lot of internet searches for a multitude of reasons (fact-checking for manuscripts, research and background for specific topics, refreshing my memory, etc.). I have found myself checking websites to ensure they are still available/actually exist (another form of fact-checking). I also found myself trying to relocate a website about a specific person…
Then, for a lark, I decided to check on my own name and see what came up.
The only things that came up on Yahoo, Google, Bing, and even Ask.com (though there wasn’t much on that one) all seemed to relate to me or my family. All the links looked unremarkable, although there were even some that were promising (there were a few acknowledgements in books that I hadn’t been aware of being acknowledged in floating around out there – one from years and years ago), so I was breezing through the little mini-blurbs that pop up with the keywords highlighted without actually clicking on them, and was getting some warm fuzzies from all the nice things being said (and grimacing at the photos of me, ew…). I saw one place and then another that said something along the lines of “We found 1 people with the name of Ronda Swolley…” and discovered that, unlikely as it may be, I think I am the only Ronda Swolley in all the internet – at least it sure seems that way, LOL!
Everything that popped up was about me, except one odd little bit about an arrest report in Council Bluffs, Iowa. When I first saw that I was a bit peeved, thinking someone had falsely given my information to the police. I don’t recall ever being on the wrong side of the law – or at least getting caught on the wrong side of the law. My misspent youth probably had a few minor infractions I may or may not recall under pressure, and there was a parking ticket deluge that was my ex-husband’s fault which resulted in a warrant of appearance on me because the vehicle was in my name (his sneaky way of getting me to sign the title over to him). However, the way search engines work made it seem as though that link was about me when it wasn’t even about my name! When I tried to track that police report down to see what it said I had been arrested for it was actually a list of reports with my first name and another last name on one report, and then a few lines down someone else with my last name but a different first name had been charged with a misdemeanor violation involving having too many dogs. At least that is what it sounded like. I know who it was (a relative of my husband) but have no idea why she would have had enough dogs to be charged with any kind of violation!
I wonder how many people have seen something like that about another person and jumped to conclusions about it without ever taking that step of clicking on the link to investigate the information. I know that I will be less likely to jump to conclusions in future, bad or good, and more likely to actually investigate the links I find!