Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.
Did you know I once got drunk at a party, threw up all over their upstairs hallway, and then left? Did you know I once paid $30 for a pill of ecstasy, only to find out later that it was herbal and contained no actual drug effects? Did you know that during college, my roommates and I used to go to a grocery store where our friend worked and get $100 worth of groceries for $6 because she wouldn’t scan half the items and would enter in a bunch of generic coupons for the items she did scan?
No, you wouldn’t know this stuff, because unlike the rest of you dopes, I have a generic first and last name that can’t be searched on the internet. Want to find me on Facebook? There are over 500 results, 16 of those people in Los Angeles. Want to find me on Twitter? I went through about 50 results before I stopped looking. Want to find me on MySpace? You won’t, because I’m not in a band and I’m not a child molester.
If you search for Paul Ryan on Google, you’ll find the Wisconsin Congressman, the Marvel Comics artist, the fictional character on “As the World Turns”, the headmaster at Princethorpe College, the captain and mine warfare expert in the Navy, the gay theater director/actor/author/comedy coach/corporate speaker, and the internet search coding expert who works for Microsoft. You won’t find me, because depressingly enough, I’m less talented than all these people.
If you use the white pages, you’ll find three different Paul Ryans in Duluth, 35 in the state of Minnesota, and over 100 of them in the state of California. None of them are me, because I don’t own a landline telephone. There are also a number of deviant Paul Ryans. If you search Minnesota’s court records, you’ll find a Paul Ryan who was caught driving 93 mph in a 55 mph zone. That Paul Ryan is actually me, but when you ask I’ll still deny it and launch into a long, boring story about how many Paul Ryans there are in any given city, and how perfect I am compared to them.
Potential employers can’t search for racy photos, controversial opinions, political contributions, or comments from others about what a horrible drunk I am because I’m pretty much invisible. My army of fellow Paul Ryans are helping to disguise me, and in return I am helping to disguise them. We’re a team dedicated to the advancement of people named Paul Ryan, and there’s really no stopping us.
I could get arrested for heroin dealing, streaking naked through a women’s soccer game, assaulting an entire van full of clowns, or french kissing a siamese cat, and as long as my antics aren’t picked up by the local news, I’m golden. If my name were something unusual like Humanne Itcheverre or Gentle Fudge, I would have to be more careful when choosing hobbies. But I’m not, so I’ll drink and steal and seduce Mrs. Whiskers through your house’s cat door.
Actually, if my parents had named me Gentle Fudge, I probably would have committed suicide before the end of grade school. But I digress.
Of course, I’m not entirely invisible online. You can still find me by searching for “Paul Ryan ramblings” or “Paul Ryan panda intercourse”, but very few employers have the foresight for such search terms. Mostly, human resources people just search Facebook for pictures of female interviewees drinking alcohol and wearing slutty Halloween outfits. If the photos are perverted enough, they hire her for the job.
But what about my parents? Shouldn’t I be worried about what things they may learn about their son online? Uh, no. They are well aware of these columns, and call me once every two weeks with a list of therapists and AA meetings in my area. My relatives are also aware of these columns, which my father appreciates because it makes them afraid of us and keeps them from visiting.
If any human resources or authority figures in my life are reading these columns, then kudos to them for making it this far. That’s a lot of search results to wade through. And if those same employers actually hire me after reading this stuff, then I know they’ll be fun people to work for who have a good sense of humor. I consider all my online horrors a litmus test for future bosses, friends, and girlfriends. You pass if you don’t barf.