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Feeling Googly

By Brooke Benton

When I was seven I wanted to be a poet. Mr. Shel Silverstein himself was the one who inspired me, and I took to allowing certain pages in my official-looking, red fake leather embossed journal for random rhyming sentences.

When I was 11 I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. I had an autographed poster of Janet Evans tucked away in my desk. I missed my oldest brother’s mission farewell because I was at a nationals swim meet willing myself through the long course mile.

When I was 20 I wanted to get married. I was halfway through college and my parents were just a hair shy of making me sign a contract promising to graduate before I started popping out kids.

Their worry was for naught. I was in no rush to be a mommy. I had plans. Big ones.

Did you have plans, too?

I laugh at how easily my “plans” were quashed with the birth of my first child. But on crazy hectic days when the swarm of children seems more than I can bear, I still long for the fantasy fulfilled of a book written, a marathon completed officially, my old size 4 jeans on my body and not folded in the closet—accolades of some type, a reward that validates, something to remind me of me.

Emily sought herself out on Google, in an attempt to see if any of her accomplishments were, as she says, “Google-worthy.” Read what happens here, and see how, through the birth of her beautiful babies, there was also the birth of a reluctant mother. She found herself on Google indeed, but more importantly she found herself.

And good for her.

But still. There is something intriguing about her attempt at entering herself in the search engine”¦

When I was 30 I wanted to find myself on Google. As it turns out, I don’t exist anywhere on Google. I have no bylines, no mentions, no quotes; my name is not one for the records or one that will live in cyberland infamy.

Nope, I just find myself on the computer. On the computer wasting time Googling myself while the shouts start up with fevered intensity— down the stairs, across the backyard, from the bunk bed. And the echoes of these strains course off the walls and into my heart. Two single syllables that seem more my right name than my given name ever was: “ma-ma!”

Take that, Google.

Can you find yourself on Google?

Where do you find yourself?

About Brooke Benton

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

23 thoughts on “Feeling Googly”

  1. Brooke, this is wonderful! And I love Emily's article–beautiful.

    I had googled myself recently and found myself in a few places. I double checked today to see if I had become more famous overnight for my peach-buying habits or past primary chorister abilities. No such luck.

    Here's where I found myself:
    1) On my city's website. Sometime after moving to our current home, I volunteered to help the neighborhood chair. I wanted to be more involved, be a responsible citizen. She asked if I would be the secretary. My scant duties were rarely fulfilled, as I forgot meeting after meeting. I embarrassingly resigned a year later, but my name has not been removed. It represents good intentions and unreliable follow through. Rats.

    2) In a local addition of a local paper. I attended an outdoor concert and was one of several people interviewed about why we were there. Not very exciting, but it represents the thoughtfulness of a great friend who invited me, and a supportive husband who said "go" even though it was fhe and he didn't want to come. It also reminds me of how much I love small outdoor concerts with local artists. It was a dreamy night.

    3 & 4) On two title transfers. The first was two years after getting married, when we added my name to our house/property. The second was when we sold our first home after trying to be landlords for a year. I hated being a landlord. I love being a home owner. I love being united with my husband in our financial goals and efforts.

    5) An lds blog roll. But the link is for my old, nonexistent blog, before I realized I wanted a little more anonymity.

    6) I am mentioned as "Aunt Wendy" in an article. I love the article, its author, and being Aunt Wendy. Tending my nieces and nephews are some of my most cherished memories.

    Where DO I find myself? I find myself not quite where I expected, either. I was a career woman for ten years, which I never wanted for myself when I was younger, but was grateful I had been guided to one as I found myself single for a long time. I find myself very grateful my husband has supported me in leaving my career, even though we don't have kids yet and we could really use the money. I find myself coming to peace with where I am, rebuilding my non-career/non-mom identity, growing in hope about our becoming parents, learning to be a better wife, and learning to enjoy my life in its various stages and seasons.

    This was fun to think about and write. I'm looking forward to reading where others are finding themselves!

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  2. Wow! Six mentions on Google! You're practically famous!

    I am overshadowed completely by "Brook Benton," the male, African American singer of R&B fame. The real rip off of all of this: that isn't even his real name! His stole my thunder with a pseudonym!

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  3. I'm on city council meeting minutes, and Segullah. That's it.

    Oh, and a bunch of title property entries, too. But I don't think those count.

    I vacillate between contentment at being who I am, and irritation that I'm not famous for writing that book that's sitting inside my computer. Today I'm happy to be anonymous. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

    But our sacrifice as mothers and aunts and grandmothers and women in general wouldn't actually be a sacrifice if we were acclaimed and famous for it. I think it's that sacrifice that makes it worthy.

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  4. "our sacrifices . . . wouldn't actually be a sacrifice if we were acclaimed and famous for it."

    I like that, Justine. Definitely something to think about.

    And no, I haven't been sitting at the computer all morning! 🙂 I came down to take a quick peak before my walking partner shows up.

    Brooke, your name definitely sounds better on you than on the R&B singer!

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  5. Thanks for this, Brooke. I love "two single syllables that seem more my right name than my given name ever was." Nice.

    Since I wrote the essay I show up more because of Segullah. Also, for some reason, my mission website used to not show up and now it does.

    I have thought a lot about sacred anonymity. It's made me look at the people around me differently: the women in Relief Society who have raised their families and now are loving the grandkids. Few of them show up on google, but they have that sacred anonymity, the service that only the angels see.

    And, where do I find myself?… I'm not really on Google. I find myself best in the Plan. Really, I do.:-)

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  6. I love the idea of "sacred anonymity," and of just being plain anonymous. In fact my husband just said to me, "Doesn't it make you feel sort of good to know that people can't find you– not even on Google?"

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  7. I went through the first 10 pages of Google results and found nothing. I used to have one entry come up on the first page for a small technical article I wrote several years ago.

    My alter ego, though, sets a high bar. He consults, he publishes, he blogs, he shows up on Amazon.com Japan…how am I to compete? I can only hope that he doesn't sing.

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  8. Matt—I'm intrigued.

    Brooke–I show up on google for my Segullah stuff, my photography stuff, and a few 5Ks I have run. I also joined a random Australian Gallery Association when I was in college thinking I needed to beef up my resume. Wow. It worked. um, yeah.

    I actually am proud of my small presence on google. I don't really desire anonymity. (not that I want fame and glory either) Nor do I think anonymity is always sacred.

    Why is anonymity "sacred?" Obviously I get the mother in heaven reference here…but for us…is motherhood/womanhood any less "special" or "of value" if it's recognized vs. not?

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  9. I guess what concerns me sometimes about myself, and about the Mommying Magazines (Baby Talk, etc.) is that we have this need to be honored instead of doing good things because they are good and need to be done. I'm always wanting people to notice, to recognize. Anonymity isn't always sacred. But a lot of times, it is: there's something that feels more noble to me when I serve and sacrifice and no one sees and I truly don't care, than when I serve but really hope that people see and point out how great I am.

    It's not that wanting a pat on the back is bad… it's just that, IMO, there's a higher degree of service, and that's when you serve and give and the pat on the back never even occurs to you, because serving is just who you are.

    Something for me to aspire to.

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  10. I like what you both said, Maralise and Emily. It's fun to have a little fame. I'd love to be known for something worthy of recognition someday. On the other hand, doing things for the sake of being known isn't a great motive. It's like the hypocrites, doing their alms before men: "They have their reward." I am guilty of that more than I like admitting.

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  11. I guess what concerns me sometimes about myself, and about the Mommying Magazines (Baby Talk, etc.) is that we have this need to be honored instead of doing good things because they are good and need to be done.

    I like this. It's also just hard to do 'what really matters most' when we don't see the effects, perhaps for decades, and when no one is there patting us on the back and giving us googles and kudos. It takes a lot of eternal perspective for achievement-driven people like me to remember that worldly achievements that I might be even BETTER at than motherhood. It's not that all those other accomplishments that are made are bad, but in the end, as good as I could be in my sphere of life that existed before motherhood (I was one for whom motherhood was the goal and I didn't get married until later than I had planned), God needs me doing the ungoogleable.

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  12. It takes a lot of eternal perspective for achievement-driven people like me to remember that worldly achievements that I might be even BETTER at than motherhood.

    Ha. I'm out of it today…to finish that sentence,

    "to remember that worldly achievements that I might be even BETTER at than motherhood are not as important as motherhood."

    For me, the fact that it's not a recognized thing in the same way my other life was is part of what I think I'm supposed to learn from…doing things because they are right, not because they feel good or make me look good. That's some of what I think I'm supposed to learn, anyway.

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  13. brooke. i googled myself. apparantly i won a bikini contest. dunno i didn't click on it. but. i am famous a little, because 7 mccoys IS listed on the second or third page in. THAT is scary. i don't want to be famous. i am thinking of this whole blogging thing and i am wondering if i should just be done with it. maybe i should just go back to yearly christmas letters.

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  14. I think instead of chronicling all the banalities of my day, I will now thing of it forever in terms of "doing the ungoogleable!" That is great. Changing poopy diapers? Just doing the ungoogleable. Making PB&J's? Ungoogleable.

    And a bikini contest? Wow.

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  15. Great post. You know that I always dreamed that I would be the best friend to someone famous. (I don't have to go into the whole Oprah thing) But I have realized that I would do much better being the best that I can be, rather than grabbing the coat tails of someone else's accomplishments. It is so freeing knowing that I am in control of accomplishing my own goals and dreams. I can choose which dreams will become goals accomplished, and which will remain my own dreams.

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  16. I, too, think of how I'll be found someday. However, I have always said lightly, "it' not fame I'm seeking, it's fortune!"

    That said, I know for certain my name, and I'm sure most of the others here, is found where it's most important. Recorded simply on the Book of Life. Google's got nothing on Him.

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  17. Emily M.–I can see your point. If we desire fame and that is the motivation for action, then that is obviously less than a wholesome desire. However, I don't think that simply recognizing the efforts of women in particular somehow taints the often ungoogleable acts that we perform.

    In my opinion, often even our husbands don't recognize the grind of womanhood, the burden of Sunday dinner for the family, the constant pull of children, careers, home life vs. the outside world. I don't think that keeping our lives secret/sacred helps anyone understand our unique obligations, efforts, and heroism. And to me, it is important that others know so that they can empathize, build communities, help improve the lot of women when and if necessary.

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  18. And to me, it is important that others know so that they can empathize, build communities, help improve the lot of women when and if necessary.

    To me, though, this is different from what you can Google. 🙂 It comes in being willing to share our stories and be vulnerable and share our weaknesses, too, so that other women feel that connection, that sense of 'I'm not alone in this.' At least that is the way I see it.

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  19. y'know, they used to say the name of a good and proper woman would only appear in the newspapers twice: to announce her birth and to announce her marriage–she was to restrict herself to the private sphere. I hope we're not coming up with a new version of those bad old days using Google instead. I'm glad I can spend so much of my day with my children, but I hope I always choose my activities based on whether or not they're worthwhile, not on whether or not I'll end up on Google. That's what Milner's essay has meant to me.

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  20. I've spent the last couple of days trying to articulate in my head what I mean. I like what Michelle and Johnna have said. I also like sharing stuff about my bad days with people. I like the community it creates. I agree that we need those communities; even in the pre-google days women needed and created those communities.

    There was a section in the early drafts of my Google essay that I took out later, in which I talked about the flaws of finding data about people on Google. A big one is this: all that you see is the written down, electronic memory of one moment. It's not really you, it's a snapshot of you. So, you can be Googlable and at the same time, the real you is nowhere to be found on the internet. But there's this illusion that you're there anyway. I'm getting all ontological here, but do you know what I mean? It's the illusion of knowing people, because you know stuff about them, without the substance.

    And so I'm wondering, does it take away from the substance to write down what it is? Recognizing our efforts means, to one degree or another, that we do our good works and are seen of men, and that being seen of men is our reward. And that's not necessarily bad. I need that reward, sometimes. I want my good stuff to be seen of men. But when we do good in secret, then we have a different reward… the Father rewards us openly.

    Got to go. Wish I were more coherent.

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