Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it before. Sitting all alone in front of our computer screen late at night, each and every one of us out there has dimmed the lights, loosened our belt and Googled ourselves.
Some of you type your name into Google in the hopes that it doesn’t pop up. Fearing that your coworkers or former high school classmates might type in your name and find all of the salacious details of your recent weekend-long drinking binge that you posted in your LiveJournal, you type your name into the popular search engine and cross your fingers that you don’t pop up. (This is when it pays to have a name like John Smith instead of, say, Moonbeam Zappa.)
Others of you out there might do what I do – narcissistically hope that your name does pop up in Google, preferably toward the top of a search query. Whenever I feel the urge to Google myself, my fingers are crossed hoping that HoboTrashcan will be the first site that pops up. Unfortunately, a sculptor who owns the domain JoelMurphy.net and a published author/veterinarian named Dr. Joel Murphy have me beat, even though I own the domain JoelMurphy.com (which simply redirects people to this column).
Of course, in addition to wanting to know if our own cyber-correspondences make the cut on Google, we also want to know what other people are saying about us. Perhaps a bitter ex-lover is spreading lies about you on their MySpace blog, ruining your Internet street cred and hurting your chances of finding true love on Match.com. Or maybe the mug shot from your 1987 public nudity arrest has surfaced on The Smoking Gun. Or, worst of all, perhaps someone has created a Wikipedia entry about you, besmirching your good name with lies presented as facts.
Like I said, we all do it. Which, got me wondering – do celebrities spends hours Googling themselves? Do Hollywood starlets like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan spend time on sites like D-Listed and What Would Tyler Durden Do reading stories about themselves? Are they able to ignore the overwhelming amount of mean-spirited stories about them that appear in tabloid blogs each and every day?
For instance, do you think Lindsay Lohan woke up this morning (assuming that she actually wakes up before noon) and saw the National Enquirer interview with Breanna Tierney, whose boyfriend Lindsay reportedly stole while in rehab? In the interview, Tierney says her relationship ended when her boyfriend Riley admitted to having sex with Lohan in the stairwell at Cirque Lodge.
So, did Lohan log on to her favorite gossip blog this morning to read this story about herself? If so, what goes through her mind? I’m guessing it’s one of three thing: “1. Man, that stairwell really chaffed my back.” “2. Thank God Breanna didn’t know about the sex we had next to the vending machines or the hot tub handjob.” “3. Which one was Riley again?”
I seriously doubt Britney Spears has time to keep up with all of the stories that come out about her each and every day. But, I still wonder how much time she logs on celebrity gossip sites. For her, I almost imagine it’s no so much a question of which stories make the gossip blogs, but which ones they leave out. I imagine things like, “All the sites mentioned that I attacked paparazzi with my umbrella, but luckily none of them saw me run over that hobo later in the evening” or “They all overheard me ranting about my judge at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus but thankfully they missed out on when I cursed out a Costco employee when I found out the store was out of industrial-sized boxes of Ding Dongs.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that we are a celebrity-obsessed country. But, how obsessed are the celebrities themselves? At times, it seems like Britney Spears is addicted to the paparazzi, as if she has a constant need for attention (or perhaps she is just hoping someone will respond to her increasingly-louder cries for help). Is her self-worth these days measured by the amount of coverage she receives on the Internet? Would she rather see 50 stories about what a terrible mother she is than see no stories at all?
And, do celebrities read blogs to keep track on each other? Does a lesser-covered celebrity like Jessica Simpson read all of the Britney and Lindsay Lohan stories and think “Wow, maybe I’m not so screwed up after all.” (Which is how I feel whenever I watch an episode of Intervention.) Or, is it a never-ending game of “Can You Top This?” where celebrities feel the need to raise the bar in order to keep the coverage on them (which could be how naked photos of Disney actresses and night-vision sex tapes ended up getting “leaked” across the Internet).
It’s interesting to picture Britney Spears’ Cheeto-stained fingers typing in the URLs of her favorite gossip blogs, just as eager as the rest of us to hear the latest celebrity gossip. Who knows, perhaps some day she’ll stumble across this column and will become a regular reader (assuming, of course, that Ms. Spears can read).
I certainly hope so, since that kind of attention would catapult me ahead of Dr. Joel Murphy on a Google search.
Random Thought of the Week:
Yesterday at a T station (the Boston subway system), like most other days, there was a scruffy-looking man playing a guitar. His guitar case was open in front of him, soliciting donations. Halfway through a song, the man abruptly stopped playing and reached into his pocket, pulling out a cell phone, which he answered and proceeded to have a lengthy conversation on.
It might just be me – but answering a brand new, top-of-the-line cell phone sort of ruins the whole starving artist illusion. From that point on, I kept imagining him packing up his guitar and loading it into the trunk of his fully-loaded Lexus SC 430 convertible.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.