Thursday, April 10, 2008

On Googlegangers, doubles, and writing

First of all, I think we can all agree that "googleganger" is a remarkably clumsy word. But, still, there's something interesting about this lifestyle piece on google doubles in today's New York Times. First, Maureen Johnson is quoted in the article about her googlegangers, of which I'm sure there are a few. But, second, I found the upbeat tone of the article strange and stranger still the fact that people go out of their way to meet people of the same name.

Double stories always sort of creep me out. In a good way, it's true--but I still find the fact that you may have a double in the world alienating. My favorite double story is Nabokov's Despair, in which the hero runs into his double living on the streets in Prague. Meeting his double sets the hero--Hermann--to thinking...of dastardly deeds and insurance schemes. I don't want to give too much away, because Despair is a great twist on the double theme and well worth reading just for fun. My MG WIP is a double story set in a Renaissance Faire and I'm trying to keep Nabokov's twisted sense of humor far away from me at the moment.

Finding my own doubles on google was disorienting. There are two of about my same age, both in the Midwest, one a woman and one a man. (There are also several teens/college students with my name, though a generation later, they are all girls.) Here's the thing: One double holds political views wildly opposed to mine and I'm always afraid someone will mistake this double for me. Crazy, no? But then that's what doubles do--make you just a little insane. And, while Maureen Johnson certainly points this out, the New York Times article was all happy reunions and serendipity.

What do you think about your google doubles?