"Self-googling": Admit it, you do it

Dropped your own name into Google lately? Everybody has "googled" himself or herself at least once (admit it!). But keep in mind, ego tripping through cyberspace can find the skeletons in your closet -- and out them.

Next time your ego gets too big for your friends to handle, send it on a trip to Google.com for a reality check.

While most surfers would be hesitant to admit it, "googling" or ego searching has become a common way of not only passing time on the Internet, but also of validating accomplishments or successes.

Ego searching is simple: Go to Google.com -- or the search engine of your choice -- type in either your name or the name of someone you know, and see how many times it appears across the Internet.

The practice is a non-scientific but often informative way to research co-workers, check out your in-laws, or get the lowdown on your next blind date before he or she ever reaches your front door.

However, there is a downside to the practice. On the Internet, your name might be linked to events best left in your past -- like that 1-12 season your college soccer team endured, or that embarrassing e-mail about your boss's bad toupee that cropped up on a public message board years later.

Perhaps the most sobering lesson that can be learned from "googling" is how little control you have over your Internet identity. Since a search often reveals a surprisingly hefty number of results, having a common name can make it easier to hide on the Web.

But watch out, because including information about hobbies and vacations in a bio on an employer's Web site may seem benign today, but a few years from now, when your significant other stumbles upon it, you may find yourself re-explaining that long-forgotten obsession with David Hasselhoff.

So remember, even if the ex you love to loathe hits the lottery someday, thanks to ego searching and that B-movie he or she did in college, you can always get the last laugh.

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