How can I stop googling myself?
March 2, 2015 10:41 AM   Subscribe

I have a problem with googling myself several times a day, whenever I take a break from working or doing other things. Help me stop.

I am a writer and perhaps 1-3 new things about me or my work appear on the internet each day. Sometimes the postings are benign, sometimes they throw me and make me feel bad. Sometimes they make me feel good. I wish I had the will-power to stop. Do you know of any sights that could block my name so I couldn't search, or do you have any other will-power or other strategies to help me stop doing this? I wish I could just talk myself out of this habit. And sometimes I do manage to go several days without succumbing, and it feels great.

I am not sure why I do this--masochism, vanity, boredom, curiosity, the feeling that I might learn something important, or that there's something I should know about--as though it's part of my work to keep tabs on what people are saying (but not all writers I know google themselves--so it doesn't *have* to be part of one's work). I just want to stop, for good.

I'm on my computer all the time, so the temptation is always there.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and suggestions!
posted by Clotilde to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you trying to stop obsess about what people online say about you or is the googling itself the problem? If the latter, set up a google alert to send you all your new mentions once a day, then wean yourself to once a week. You'll be secure in the knowledge you won't miss anything and the bad and the good will be mixed, which will hopefully help you focus on the good.

I don't think you can block anything with your name, since that would cut off things like your email. You can probably block any urls that include both "google" and your name. That would do it, (possibly provided you don't use gmail).

So, in conclusion: Block urls that include google and your name (you can do this through the trusted/not trusted sites thing on your browser). Set up a google alert, so you don't go crazy with anxiety and override your browser settings. Wean yourself to less frequent google alerts.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:47 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Let's put it this way - your job isn't to Google yourself.
Your job, as you state it, is to write.
So get so damn busy on your next blog post, book, article or manifesto that you don't have time to give a shit what others are saying about you.
If it's something you really need to hear, let one of your friends or fans bring it to your attention.

I used to have an alert set up for my real name, just in case someone mentioned me or wrote a review of one of my novels. I totally admit it was an ego driven thing.
After a while, they stopped, so I assumed that I've become passé and decided to stop the alert and get back to writing.

Repeat after me "My job is to write, I better get writing."
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 11:02 AM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

To reduce temptation, you could get a computer that doesn't connect to the internet. You can write, save your work to that computer's hard drive, and use a local backup, such as a flash drive. Then you transfer your work to your internet-connected computer and your cloud backup as needed.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:09 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

A different sort of fix: you could sign up for keyword alerts for your name, so the new results could be delivered to your email once a day or week or however long you specify. This would at least defer the need to search, because you'd know you'd see all new results soon enough anyway. And it could be good for having a scheduled time to process any new content, no matter good or bad, instead of letting a random new blog post or whatever throw your entire day.
posted by estlin at 11:24 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

To expand on Bentobox's suggestion, we helped someone do this for $20 yesterday.
Well, to be exact, someone asked a question, I had a bit of an attack of nostalgia and I went and bought another AlphaSmart3000.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 11:26 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Perhaps you could try focusing more on the positive benefits of refraining from googling yourself, instead of on the negative consequences of doing it. In my experience it's easier to motivate yourself to go in a positive direction, rather than *not* going in a negative direction. The thought of how much happier you'll be if you don't do it might be more compelling than the thought of how sad you'll be if you do.

Another approach would be to think about what need googling yourself meets, and then find some other way to meet that need. After that, each time you go to google yourself you can try doing that other thing instead.

Personally, I don't think it's all that bad to want to check up on what is said about you online. The problem is the frequency. If I were you, I would set aside a particular time for googling myself, say on Wednesday afternoons or something. Then, each time you're about to do it compulsively, you can stop and remind yourself that it's okay to do it, but that you're saving it for Wednesday.
posted by sam_harms at 12:02 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am also something of a writer (freelance, blogging). And I am medically handicapped. When I am sort of vaguely braindead because of my medical condition (which is often), I often do repetitive, stupid shit online. I think you also suffer from Repetitive Stupid Shit Online Syndrome and your primary symptom is ego-surfing. :-) Let me recommend some less harmful alternatives:

Twitter -- you can retweet stupid shit for giggles.
Metafilter -- you can leave one comment and then refresh all day to see if anyone has faved it yet.
Hacker News -- you can comment and refresh all day to see if you have been up- or down-voted.
Texts from Last Night -- you can read the crazy-assed stuff other people do when they are in a Stupid Shit mood and feel morally superior for merely googling yourself.

You can also do things like delete old emails (I have thousands), find something you want to read that works well when read in bits and pieces and keep it on the backburner to read in place of ego-surfing, do relatively mindless writing-related tasks (like start stubs, fact check things for pieces you intend to write, do the formatting), or do writing-related other stuff like brush up on grammar so that when you are not up to doing actual writing -- which is actually hard and takes brains -- and just want to piddle, you can piddle more productively.

It helps if you recognize that part of the appeal is that it is Repetitive Stupid Shit Online so you can look for other Repetitive Stupid Shit Online that you find less problematic as a replacement.
posted by Michele in California at 1:15 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm an editor and I deal with writers who google their names all the time. One or two were obsessive like you, and it was a pain it *my* butt. I understand that you might want to do it if you break a huge story or if your new novel is out, but overall I would tend to say it never makes writers better at their craft; it makes them worse. They start doubting themselves, engage in spats online when they're better off putting their head down and work, it almost never brings them sources, fresh angles, good ideas, whatever. In essence, it's a waste of time distracting you from the other important shit you have to do. At least that's what I tell writers.
posted by Sijeka at 4:08 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

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