It’s been a while since I googled myself. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine googled me (for some reason) and it almost ruined our friendship when she stumbled across a neo-conservative rant I posted on a political website when I was 16 and dumb and Republican. (It’s true. Now you know.)
These days I’m not as embarrassed about what people might find if they google my name, and I’ve come out to most of my friends and family as a former Republican. We’re in the healing process.
Today, Google turns 15. It’s the age when a young teenage Google would notice some changes in his body and would naturally start becoming more obnoxiously self-absorbed. So Pew researchers decided to ask Web users if they’ve ever Googled themselves and found that today more than half of all Internet users have used a search engine to look up their own name.
Fully 56% of American Web users admitted to doing this, compared to just 22% in 2001 (the first time Pew asked the question).
Interestingly, the number of people who Google themselves hasn’t really changed much since the social media reckoning of Facebook opening up to everyone (circa 2008). In 2009, 57% of people admitted to having Googled themselves at some point. Prior to 2009, the trend was on a pretty steady rise.
So who is self-searching? Who do you think? Young, rich, white kids. (Actually, to be fair, it’s more likely that users “who tend to have jobs that require online reputation monitoring” are the ones who are self-searching, according to researcher Mary Madden.)
Younger Web users are significantly more likely than older users to be wary of their digital footprints, as the report notes, so it’s not too surprising that 64% of Web users in the 18-29 age bracket are Googling themselves, compared to 49% of 50- to 64-year-olds.
Those in high-income households are also much more likely to Google themselves. Fully 66% of those in households earning $75K a year or more have done so, compared to 48% of those living in households earning less than $30K a year.
Beyond search engines, 24% of Internet users say they’ve used other Web services, such as social media sites, to look up their own names. That’s up from 20% in 2009.
Have you made sure to delete your awful teenage poetry and political rants lately? Maybe you should Google yourself and make sure the Internet has swallowed it all.
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