Don’t Google Yourself

The internet has made us all less significant, in some ways.  Specifically I’m thinking about names.  “Wiggins,” when I was growing up, was an unusual surname.  In fact, people in Pittsburgh would sometimes send me clippings when a Wiggins appeared in the paper, it was so unusual.  Now with the internet I find plenty of Wigginses out there, and, in my case, several Steve Wigginses.  Not only that, but there are other academic Steve Wigginses, prompting Academia.edu to send me emails asking if I was the Steve Wiggins who wrote this or that article, often about agriculture or some other aspect of anthropology.  Who would’ve guessed?  There’s actually at least a third Steve Wiggins academic out there, an applied mathematician.  Perhaps there’s some mystical draw to higher education with a name like this?

But not so fast!  The most popular Steve Wiggins online seems to be the one who shot and killed a Dickson County, Tennessee deputy.  His act of violence, probably not for a Herostratic motivation, has nevertheless placed him in a pool of internet of fame.  So much so that a supervisor emailed me, jokingly, in June 2018, asking why I’d done it.  It’s difficult to build a good family name when some of us are going around shooting people.  A simple web search reveals that he is currently the best known Steve Wiggins in the country.  It could be because his trial was just last week, but still, but still…

One of my earliest blog posts here on Sects and Violence in the Ancient World was about the gospel singer named Steve Wiggins.  Prior to the murder of a police officer, this Steve Wiggins came to the top in any Google search.  To become well known you must release content.  In my world, which is small, that still means in print form.  Widely distributed.  And reasonably priced.  It’s clear I’ve got my work cut out for me.  The lessons we learn when we’re young have a way of staying with us.  It’s still easy to believe Wiggins is an uncommon surname—people still have no idea how to spell it—but the internet shows that’s just not true.  Even with both names there’s a significant number of both famous and infamous Steve Wigginses out there.  We all like to think we’re unique.  That we all have some kind of contribution to make.  Maybe mine is in the realm of horror movies.  Or Doppelgängers.  Only time will tell.

Who are you?

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