What does your Internet search history reveal about you? I do not want to imagine what kind of conclusions someone might draw from my crazy mix of double checking spellings and delving into the macabre, mysterious, weird, artistic, historical, and grammatical questions that pop into my head while I’m writing fiction and freelance projects.
Sometimes I’m just checking the New York City subway map or confirming the opening date of a museum exhibit, but my multiple searches for reminders about how to take a screenshot and how to spell Toulouse-Lautrec (for a client’s project) make me seem like a dunderhead. How can a person with an excellent memory keep fumbling for certain sets of details? It’s an anomaly. Certain things—like the spelling of Toulouse-Lautrec—never seem to stick.
What would an outsider make of searches on poisons? Wolfsbane is easy to remember, but Acontitum needs to be double-checked. The first name is great for a Gothic, but the Latin name is better for a contemporary story. Then there’s Foxglove and Digitalis—the poison/medicine, medicine/poison with beautiful flowers in tons of classic murder mysteries.
A while back an artist friend was taking a photography course and her class assignment was to take portraits of people in their “natural habitat.” She took a photo of me in my kitchen and, because there are books all over my tiny apartment, there’s a bookcase in my galley-style kitchen. The class identified me as a mystery writer from the shelf of books on forensic science, neurology, famous crimes, and psychopathologies.
Of course, they could also have concluded that I was a serial killer attempting to evade justice by understanding the methodology of police investigators.
The breadcrumbs we leave can be misleading!
When I Google the TSA carry-on luggage regulations, I’m NOT planning to put something nefarious in my suitcase. I just want to verify how much of my hair conditioner I should put in the checked luggage—all of it because during a three-week trip I use a lot of hair products—and if the regulations on electronic devices have changed—not yet. Whew! (I’m not sure if I could survive a long flight without my Kindle.)
Think about your recent searches. What erroneous conclusions might come from your trail of Internet breadcrumbs?