2009-01-08 — Good Characters (Leave a message)

In German literature, a doppelgänger is a person’s sinister double, a kind of evil twin (from Doppel-double and Gänger-goer). In modern parlance, a googlegänger is a cyber double—a person with your same name you find when you google yourself. Unlike with a doppelganger, many, many people today are thrilled when they discover googlegängers.

Why the fascination—rather than irritation—with people who share our names? Psychologists think it has to do with our preoccupation with ourselves. People, they say, are attracted to people, places, and things that remind them of themselves. Social scientists cite the “name-letter effect,” a psychological theory that suggests that we unconsciously prefer the letters in our own names to any other letters.

So people google their names and learn all they can about their alter egos. Sometimes they contact them and develop relationships. Sometimes they uncover surprising similarities. The phenomenon is so widespread that entire websites such as SameNameAsMe are devoted to googlegängermania. It’s one more testimony to the importance of one’s name.

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