I logged into the alumni database for my undergraduate college today. I was searching for the contact info for a roommate from my junior year. He had gotten married and had a child recently, and I wanted to congratulate him.
While I was in the database, I idly put in the name of one of my former girlfriends. Our relationship had been passionate, and like many very passionate relationships, it hadn’t survived when I graduated and left and she didn’t. We had not kept in touch.
She was in the directory, and her alumni profile listed her married name and the city she was living in. I did some quick googling, and almost immediately found out that she was fairly paranoid about leaving personal information online. Nevertheless, I soon had her husband’s name, and discovered that she was involved in Celtic dance. Very shortly after that, I had her phone number.
For those of you that don’t know, if you put a telephone number (with area code) into Google it will often spit out a name, address, and map. Try it with your own number sometime. I googled her phone number, and was soon looking down at her neighborhood in a satellite view, trying to decide which house was hers.
I love to find things with Google. It’s like a game, me against a volume of data that is beyond the ability of the imagination to comprehend. It’s a needle in a haystack. But you can find that needle remarkably easily if you can narrow your query through the judicious use of the appropriate keywords and phrases. Unique ones. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, and it often serves me well professionally.
When you get right down to it, it’s all about words. And I love to play with words.
But getting back to the stalking. I suspect that, no matter how fondly she might remember me, if my long-lost love had known that I now knew her name, address, phone number, and how she spent the third Wednesday of every month, she would freak out. But other than getting her married name and hometown from the alumni directory, all of the info I found was in the public domain.
Was I stalking her? Really, I was just trying to see what she was up to, and maybe find a picture of her to see how she was aging. But if she had known about it, it might have caused her some concern.
And that’s why I don’t think I’m stalking anyone. I have no intention of calling her up, either to breathe heavily or to ask how she’s doing. Why not? Because I, myself, am remarkably easy to find on the internet. Anyone that wanted to get in touch with me could do so easily.
She hasn’t. And I can respect that.