We’ve all googled ourselves from time to time. The process is similar to looking into a mirror: it serves a practical purpose of seeing what you look like, and of course the chance to be vain.
Unlike a mirror however, googling yourself allows you to see other yous. On my last google search I came face to face with the 34 year-old, 195 lbs of man meat known as Michael Tomasetti. My googlegänger is an underwear model hunk, who shoots shaved or hairy, but “no nudes.” This Michael Tomasetti approves of his good decency and thinks he has enough muscles for the both of us.
The New York Times ran an article a few years back about the phenomenon of googlegängers and how people are naturally drawn to people and places that remind them of themselves.
Social psychologists have found that people are more attracted to others with similar faces or identical birth dates. James Bruning, a trustee professor of psychology at Ohio University, said that people’s fascination with their Googlegängers might be an adult expression of the common childhood wish to be an identical twin.
I find it interesting that model Michael and I are both actors – he’s making his debut in a horror film this year. While it’s nice to laugh at the coincidence, the idea that his name might be registered with SAG has crossed my mind. I’ve toyed with the idea of anglicizing my name to the standard Michael Thompson or the cooler Thomas West.
The idea of googlegängers got me thinking about what’s in a name. After all you can always adopt a stage name. Jon Stewart was born Jonathan Leibowtiz, Martin Sheen was Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez, Cary Grant was Archibald Leach, and Albert Brooks was Albert Einstein. Changing your name changes your googlegängers and your brand, but does it change your identity? I don’t know the answer to that, but I definitely know it changes perception.
Right now I’m content with my Italian-American last name and part perturbed and part amused with the other Michael Tomasetti. If I’m being completely honest, I’m proud of managing to snag michaeltomasetti.com. I see it as a friendly race of name competition. Here’s to the happy gawking of googlegängers, whoever they may be.