Ok, so I’m not really hard to find…what with being the only Kent Vorkink in the world. My vital info is out there and I’d be a prime candidate for identity theft, but what a surprise they would get! My phone number, address, pictures, likes and dislikes, thoughts, family members, etc etc can all be found with just a single google search on my name. (Remember the quotes.)
Were I a Mark Smith or Peter Hansen I could more easily disappear into the woodwork and have some degree of anonymity. Make a comment in my own name on a website that is highly indexed and I run the risk of it ending up on the first page of google results…which happened 5 or so years ago. So I got proactive and took control of my name. I created dozens of online profiles and made sure that someone searching for me saw what I wanted them to see. Hence, as of the google search I just did a minute ago, the first results on “Kent Vorkink” are:
1) This website
2) My Facebook Page
3) My LinkedIn Page
4) My Viadeo Page (who knew?)(Deleted it)
5 – 7) Ustream and YouTube videos
8- My Chamber.com Page (again, who knew?)(Deleted it)
9) A listing in WhitePages.com (says there are two of us…clean up your database boys!)
10) My Pinterest Page
Seriously, anyone looking for me can find me without any trouble. And want to take a guess at my gmail address?
Which ease only creates ample frustration and wonderment at how hard it is to find people that I knew back in the day. Now, I’m a pretty proficient Internet stalker and can find all sorts of info about people pretty quickly. Sure, everyone knows about Google searches, but not everyone remembers to use quotes around their search term or use the Advanced features. A creepy but fun Google search is for similar images. Just drag and drop or upload an image and Google will find images that have many of the same components.
Facebook has many privacy features built in, so one has to get creative when searching for those elusive folks who are my age and don’t have a Facebook page or have it blocked with massive security. 90% of the time their children will have a FB page and likely have a family pic or two, just so you can see if so and so looks as bad as you do. I should put in a disclaimer here that one can always PAY to get info or belong to sites like Classmates where $$$ will get you more info. Or you could probably just ask someone “Hey, what ever happened to __?” But that’s not the point of the game.
The first site I usually go to when Google and Facebook fail me is Intelius.com, one of the many sites that collect public info on people. For Utah residents it’s occasionally fruitful to check out Utahsright.com for salary, divorce, and other interesting tidbits. More than once I’ve run across someone I know on the Utah County Arrested Person Search. Utah County Land Records provides info about who own what property.
I like data. I typically search people before business meetings, interviews, etc., to get a feel for who they are. Yes, it creeps out some of them and more than once I have blown a deal because I let it be known that I had “stalked” them. Hey! I’m just doing my homework! But based on the number of people in my generation who can’t be found (at least by me) not everyone plays the game the same way that I do.
I had a success recently, locating someone that I had known back in my pre-mission days and because of circumstances isn’t someone that I am going to reconnect with now. I was curious…but not enough to ask someone who might know the details. My failure to find them had bothered me for years! And then I was able to follow a FB clue and lo and behold found family pictures that told a thousand words. I’m happy. Curiosity satisfied.
There will likely come a day when there is a Wiki page on each of us, whether we want it or not. Digital info has a habit of sticking around and eventually some enterprising person will put together a program that effectively scrapes public data and dumps it into a useful (because there are many sites that try this now but have little but name info in them) form that is editable. Can we really opt out of the digital world? Fall off the grid?
I’ve thought about how much easier the game would be if I had a private investigator’s access to info. Would I be more satisfied or would it just spoil the game?
And yes, I still google phone numbers that are calling me that I don’t recognize.