When I blog, I learn more about the important things – family, friends, community, faith – by reflecting on life’s pleasures – gardening, music, running, travel.
Writing here has brought me joy and clarity, many times over. Last night, though, it delivered a nasty little shock.
From the admin panel of my blogging software, I can tell at a glance what words people type into Google to find my blog. My name (and misspellings of it) are the most common. Other common search terms include topics I’ve written “how to” posts about: i.e., “how to make window frame pictures”, “test tube holders for flower arrangements” and “best way to see Taj Mahal”.
I have a working understanding of Search Engine Optimization, the science of making it easier to find stuff via Google, so none of this is surprising.
What did startle me are two phrases someone Googled in the past week:
“Knight Stivender is a slut.”
“Knight Stivender is a bad person.”
I had just tucked my daughter into bed at the end of a holiday weekend spent traveling first to my ex-husband’s parents’ house to spend time with his family, then to my grandmother’s house to spend time with mine, then to a girlfriend’s house where a bunch of mom friends gathered to decorate her Christmas tree while our kids played all around us.
I was feeling pretty great – loved and loving of many circles of family and friends.
But someone on the internet thinks I am a “slut”. A “bad person”.
A younger me would have anguished over what I did to make someone think these things.
The 34-year-old me wanted to know what’s wrong with the person who made those searches.
A close girlfriend assured me that was the right tact, and that I should sleep on it before writing anything about it. She was right.
And, sure enough when I checked the mail this morning – the snail mail, not email – a postcard from Paris helped temper lingering concerns about the mysterious, ill-natured Google’r.
A dear East Nashville friend, visiting his editor wife while she’s on sabbatical in France, had taken the time to write.
I’m not sure how he found my mailing address, but his is the sort of search that counts.
I have been telling my 10-year-old that “mean kids” will have more or less disappeared by the time she reaches adulthood.
Maybe I should clarify: the meanness will still be there, but its power will be diminished. Those kids will still be children, but she’ll be an adult.
She’ll know whose message matters.