Have you ever tried Googling yourself and paying attention to the search engine suggestions that pop up as you type? Well, that process is made possible by something known as algorithms, and it is what the digital world runs on.
An algorithm is a procedure used for solving a problem or performing a computation and they act as an exact list of instructions that conduct specified actions step by step. Algorithms are the lifeblood of search engines like Google and Bing, and they are what makes search engines so effective at providing us with the answers that drive our curiosity. Over time, search engines have been able to spot out patterns with specific searches to the point that they will suggest what users are trying to search for before the search is fully typed.
Sometimes searching yourself on Google or Bing can be a good way to waste some time, but other times it can turn into quite the experience, for better or for worse. Here is how that “experience” turned out for me.
Mi amor vida
If someone was to ask us to guess what searches were synonymous with Leonardo DiCaprio, I would say that it would be searches that revolve around his love life and it would include questions like “Who is Dicaprio dating?”, “Is Dicaprio married?”, “Did DiCaprio get married?”, “What is Dicaprio’s wife’s name?”, and “Does DiCaprio have a child?” These searches are quite funny because DiCaprio’s “taste in women” is critiqued every few years, as he gets older, and his “new” girlfriends get younger.
Now, imagine swapping out “Dicaprio” for your name and having these exact questions get suggested by Google or Bing. Believe it or not, that is what I got, and although I found it hilarious at first, it became quite creepy. Whoever the people were that were inquiring about mi amor vida, they are better off watching TMZ because the love life of people of Ottawa is boring compared to the love life of people in Hollywood.
My last name is Golijanin, it is not Scofield, like the two brothers from Prison Break, and yet Google and Bing were suggesting, “Is Alek Golijanin still alive?”, “Is Alek Golijanin in jail?”, “Is Alek Golijanin not in jail?”, and “Where is Alek Golijanin now?”. To be fair, I was born in the Balkans, I did grow up in Heron Gate, and I have travelled to Colombia and the Dominican Republic, countries that are ranked 1st and 2nd for being both drug trafficking and human trafficking hubs, and that might be peculiar to some people.
Who knows, perhaps people are living out their dreams of being private investigators by conducting searches over the internet. However, what makes me curious is whether or not these searches occurred after people watched police shows like CSI, True Detective, or Criminal Minds. Maybe. Maybe not.
“I’m broke baby! I ain’t got no money!” – Paid in Full 2002
The next set of questions that were suggested by Google and Bing would lead me to believe that they were asked by finance majors, “What is Alek Golijanin’s salary?”, “What is Alek Golijanin’s net worth?” and “What is Alek Golijanin doing now? Whoever the people were that were curious about these aspects of my life, they are better off applying to work at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and if they end up getting hired, they could find the answers to their questions by carrying out a search in the CRA’s internal database. It may get them fired, but it will get them the answers that they yearn for.
For me, unless someone was driving a super car or a mega yacht, or if they were playing in the big leagues or on mainstream TV, I would not bother wasting time to look up their “worth”. However, it sure would be funny if I paid one of those “Forbes” pages to proclaim me a billionaire, similar to how they have done with some celebrities, who were nowhere near being billionaires. And if I am unable to make it on the “billionaire list”, maybe I can try to pay to get on one of those “Top something under something” lists, which are also completely meaningless, but just as vain.
The winner for funniest search engine suggestion goes to…
If there is one thing about my name, it is that I have never met anyone with the same last name as me, let alone having the same first and last name. What are the odds of there being another Aleksandar Golijanin? What are the odds of there being another Aleksandar Golijanin in Canada? What are the odds of there being another Aleksandar Golijanin in Ontario? Well, probability would suggest that there are other people with the same name as me, but against all odds, there is at least one other person who shares my name across Canada, here in Ontario.
The moment the search engine suggested, “Why is Alek Golijanin not on Netflix?”, I knew why it would do so, and it makes for an great story. Believe it or not, there is someone in Canada who shares the same name as me and who is somewhat of a celebrity, having starred in a documentary series about drag shows called Drag Heels. In that show, the person who shares the same name as me, operates under the pseudonym “Erin Brock-o-bitch”. Google says that this person resides in Ontario and they are responsible for coordinating LGBTQ+ programs at the university level in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). But we have zero mutual family. Simply put, we have no mutual family connections, even though the uniqueness of our surname would suggest otherwise.
After all these years, I still get questioned about whether I live in the GTA and if I am a member of the LGBTQ+ or doing drag shows. The answer to those questions is no. However, I do remember wondering very early on whether someone had stolen my identity because Aleksandar Golijanin is not as common as something like John Smith, Jose Garcia, Ahmed Mohammed or Zhang Wei, but it sure does make for a great story! Next stop, the Twilight Zone.