Reader Request Week 2015 #2: Ego Searching Redux

Susan asks (and I’m including appropriate links):

You gave up ego-searching for Lent, and right after lent ended put up a post that you found you hadn’t missed it that much and though you had been doing it out of habit (I’m paraphrasing that post).

Is that still true? Have you resumed ego searching or do you only respond if directly contacted (ie, @scalzi on twitter, tagged on facebook, etc).

Do you think this has impacted your response to the Hugo/Puppy kerfluffle?

Indeed, since Easter I have not done any substantial ego surfing; I think I’ve done it three times. I used to have shortcuts to ego surfing on my bookmarks, and I had some Google alerts tied into my name, but I deleted those during Lent and have not been moved to return them. I also took out the “Scalzi” search on Twitter as one of my Tweetdeck columns and haven’t returned that either. The closest I come to ego searching now is periodically checking my WordPress stats and seeing where people are coming in from, and getting a daily email report from ThinkUp. But neither of those are particularly granular, in terms of specific people saying things about me.

I’m surprised how little I miss it. I’m very much of an “I want ALL THE DATA” sort of person, and also, I was previously jazzed at the idea that someone somewhere online was always talking about me. But I think over time I either got a little bit more secure in my ego, or I just simply stopped caring what other people had to say about me, either negatively or positively. I don’t mean that in a hostile who cares what the peons think sort of way; more that I have enough things to be thinking about on a day to day basis without having to know what some other person was thinking about what I was thinking, especially if I didn’t know them or have an interest in them one way or another.

Also, at a certain point for someone in my position you really do have to accept that people are going to talk about you, and that you don’t need to be part of that discussion. Previously I was generally happy to lurk on those discussions, but now I don’t even have the interest to lurk. It takes time and it takes brain cycles and I have increasingly less free time/cycles to devote to it. I’d rather spend that time/cycles on people I actually like and love, or on activities I enjoy doing.

With regard to Puppies/Hugos, it’s also probably better than I don’t spend a lot of time ego surfing. I mean, I’ve been visiting File770 daily for updates (seriously, if the site doesn’t get a Hugo nod — a legitimate, non-slate nod — for keeping up with it all, I don’t know what the Fanzine category is good for). In the recaps and comments there I see enough nonsense with my name appended to it, from basically the same few jerks, that I know ego searching my name will just reveal the same jerks plus a couple others stinking up the results. As the saying goes, ain’t nobody got time for that, and I honestly just don’t care.

At this point I assume if there’s something particularly juicy involving me, someone will let me know, and indeed that’s pretty much how it’s gone. News does get back to me. And if it doesn’t get back to me, it doesn’t much appear that I need to know it and I will get along fine without knowing. This is my new reality, when it comes to knowing what people are saying about me online, and I have to say I find it pretty congenial.

(There’s still time to ask questions for 2015’s Reader Request Week — get your requests in here.)

13 thoughts on “Reader Request Week 2015 #2: Ego Searching Redux

  1. I can confirm that for every time I’ve tweeted, “Has John Scalzi really stopped doing ego searches?”, he has failed to respond to a single one.

  2. I think that, despite all the dire warnings about the fate of eavesdroppers, that it is a really instinctive human urge to want to know what other people really think about us. It is a terrible urge that should be dropped from a large building and run over by a stampeding herd of rabid wombats, but it’s an urge that is completely natural and understandable.

    I admire your ability to find a self-balance where you no longer need to feed that part of the lizard brain.

  3. I would think there would be two different levels of information you can get from ego searches. First, you simply learn what people are saying about you. Second, you learn something about other people from what they say and how they interpret what you do. You can use this to fine-tune your public presentation, but it can also tell you about all the different ways that people take in, process, and react to information depending on their viewpoint. That would be the part I think I would get most caught up in.

  4. Cat

    Actually, I’m glad that John has more time and more energy to expend on things he enjoys as a result of dumping the ego searching; it’s blindingly obvious that there are a few people around who are obsessed with him, and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it, other than completely ignoring them.

    This has the added bonus of really pissing them off…

  5. JP Sears posted this a couple of days ago, and I think it applies here. (Of course it does, because he’s so in tune with the universe he knew this was coming up!)

    Today’s Teachings: When visiting friends, hide a recording device behind the pillows on their couch. You’ll be able to listen to the bad things they say about you after you leave so you can realize they’re not your real friends. If they don’t talk about you when you leave, it means they don’t care about you and they’re not your real friends. All real friends are found within.

  6. That makes sense Scalzi. I’d think between all your writing/gaming jobs, keeping up with Whatever, Twitter, Krissy, Athena, pets, friends, hobbies, eating and sleeping, you really don’t have much time to ego surf. People are also happy to come here to tell you what they think of you & readers/friends send email with links to anything they deem important for you to know. Why waste time & resources? You could be playing ukulele instead. :D

    For a while I did aggressively keep am eye on my Jewish name as people were trying to ruin my reputation but I quickly realized that my policy of ignoring/not responding made it a waste of time to track what others were saying and I quit. Life has stayed calmer since then.

    I do use one or two programs to alert me in case I’m targetted by GGers. The disadvantage of being an (outspoken) woman online today – you might be targeted and if so you might need to implement plans to protect yourself and loved ones.

  7. Late night + cold meds
    I read the combination of Lent and ego-searching as a discussion of adjusting spiritual meditative practices.

  8. Totally with you on File770 being worthy of a Hugo nom next year. Posting daily roundups of Puppy-related material must be a boatload of work! And those roundups are a great resource for those of us trying to keep up on the latest.

  9. Thanks, John!

    I find my reaction to you picking my question interesting, and related to the topic — I wasn’t checking Whatever constantly to see if you picked my question, but when I *did* check and saw this post, I was going “whee! He picked it!”

    Too bad there isn’t a way to do ego-searches that only select positive, ego-boosting things.

    My own ego search attitude *has* changed over time — when I sent you the cookie recipe I kept checking Whatever constantly to see if you’d posted it yet. Then I settled down and realized that was a bit silly, you might not post it at all, and it just shouldn’t matter that much to me either way.

    Oh, and I totally agree with you on File 770. Evenhanded coverage and helpful to have one site that bring together material from twitter, facebook, and blogs. Well done Mike Glyer.

  10. @Owlmirror: I was going to quote my favorite parts here, but it would have ended up a blockquote of the whole thing. Some of it isn’t even fiction.

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