Having a name like “Rena” bestowed upon you basically dooms you to a childhood of staring in despair at the customized keychain racks. What your tiny childhood self doesn’t realize is that basically everything you do after that is going to be easily accessible on the internets.

This is probably because the internet didn’t exist to my tiny childhood self, but still.

Being just old enough to remember life before the internet means I have a degree of anonymity paranoia that my younger stepsisters didn’t seem to acquire. I got very strict lectures about never giving out my real name on the internet and heard all of the urban legends going around about people getting axe murdered after hanging out in AOL chatrooms, all of which I took very seriously. My last name didn’t show up anywhere until I was a high school senior and desperately waiting for my college email address so I could join this new Facebook thing, and even then I was a little uncomfortable.

I imagine this is somewhat less worrisome to people who aren’t one of only two people who show up on a Google search for their name. I haven’t done anything SEO-wise with this website and yet it’s the fifth result to come up when you search “Rena Behar.” I’m not sure it will ever get more than one more spot higher, given that it’s coming in after LinkedIn and Google+, where they’ve more or less mastered manipulating your search results, and Texas Monthly, whose internet machine I can’t hope to compete with. That Northwestern student magazine can probably be taken down though. I’ve already bested Gawker.

Image search contains two photos of me and one of my mother’s dog, along with a video I uploaded three years ago for a multimedia class project.

This is, hopefully, great for my employment prospects. It’s not going to be difficult for my prospective employers to find me, and other than the knowledge that I once gave a cheesy interview to the camp newspaper when I was a counselor at age 17, there’s not all that much shamefully floating around. If I went too heavily onto internet lockdown I’d probably be unemployable due to lack of social media presence or some other nonsense.

It is unnerving in terms of my actual life, though.

Someone tried to chat me up in the bookstore the other day. I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m bragging, because it doesn’t happen all that often (or, really, ever) and is directly applicable to the issue at hand. He seemed nice enough and told me about eating bat in Cambodia, and were I not in a committed relationship I would have considered at least giving him my number. But introducing myself to strangers these days comes with the added paranoia that at some point they will google me. Bookstore dude, if you magically see this, well, you didn’t seem like an axe murderer at the time.

Yes, this might come off as a bit neurotic. Googling for my first name + Boston just gets you people with Boston as their last name. But you can find anything on the internet if you try hard enough. I paid extra to hide the domain registration on this website for that reason, not that it would stop anyone who really cares.

There is one other Rena Behar that I keep stumbling across, inasmuch as deliberately searching for someone’s name counts as stumbling. She lives somewhere near Seattle, is active in her synagogue, and seems to have married into the name. She also uses her full name on Twitter and Pinterest, which I’m concerned is throwing off my online image, since I use my initials. Impostor.


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