Me, Google and that Russian Guy

I was in the moment, right there, right in the moment, when suddenly, shit, something happened and, I don’t know, here I am. WTF? I’m not in the moment any more. I must have fallen through a worm-hole in the space-time continuum. Now I’m in someone else’s reality! Something is not normal. How did this happen? How did it all suddenly begin to go so very wrong?

When you are in the moment you never give it a second thought, right? You just blithely go along, being in the moment, fully expecting to be in the moment for the duration. Tra la la, skipping along, twirling your parasol, without a care in the world. Some other guy is in the moment? Big deal. Who isn’t? It’s so easy, being in the moment. It’s all just normal. You could do it with one hand tied behind your back. Then, wham! You are out of the moment. Hell, you are out of business. You can’t do what you used to do the way you used to do it.

“Just be in the moment,” my friends pleaded, trying to rouse me into doing something ridiculously easy. I would have been more than happy to, if I knew how. I shrugged and they waved as they shrank into the moment, or wherever friends shrink into when they shrink. I looked around and had the feeling that I was on my neighbor’s planet. The moment was right there, somewhere. I could almost see it. I could almost taste it. But I couldn’t get back into it. I can’t get the moment out of my mind. I need to get back in the moment. But where is the moment? Is it forward, back, just around the corner, or in the fourth dimension? It hit me like a ton of bricks. You don’t know. You don’t know your way back into the moment, and you never will. Face it, you are a lost soul! You are on the outside looking in.

Actually, truth be told, I know why I’m not in the moment, not that that helps me get back in. There was a mix-up when, once upon a time, I “okay Googled” and found that Google had mashed up my info with that of a Russian gangster with my name. Google me, and you get me and him mashed up. I am a victim of identity dump. You’ve heard of identity theft? Even worse is identity dump. This Russian gangster with my name, who likely has more than his fair share of enemies, has palmed his identity off on me. Google’s oh-so-brilliant algorithm fell for his little scam hook, line and sinker. Google lasers in on me, but thinks I am him. I am him on line, me in the flesh. This is what knocked me out of the moment.

Now all I can think about is that this Russian gangster wants some guy to think I am him for a reason I don’t want to think about. What if my “okay Googling” twigged some enemy of the Russian gangster as to my whereabouts? Was that his little plan all along? I would “okay Google”, Google would think I was him, it would track me on its little map, and his enemy’s henchman would twig to my/his whereabouts by hacking Google. Theoretically, I’m a sitting duck! But could the Russian gangster’s enemy’s henchman hack Google? That is the sixty-four bazillion dollar question. Can the bad guys squeeze through Google’s back door?

When Google wraps its tentacles around you, resistance is futile. Google latches onto your phone, your tablet, your PC, your other devices, even your refrigerator and downloads a bot into the depths of Android. Once there the bot takes up residence in the digital boudoir Google prepared for it in your devices. It records every tweet you thumb, every call you make, every photo you take, and especially every dirty pic you down fucking load. Your frig tells it what you ate for breakfast! Everything needed to nail your ass to the wall is stored in a single folder. The bot is a digital stalker working for a digital gangster that fucks with your on-line info. From that moment Google owns your ass. The bot beams your info to all and sundry, including the henchman of the enemy of the Russian gangster who identity-dumped me. He can then track me down via Google’s back door. I thought this might be a propitious time to slip quietly into the fourth dimension, if I only knew how. Anyway, Google is probably already there.

I had to face facts. If Google is tracking you there is no point in running. That is obvious. Was there anything to do? The best I could think of was to simply take a jaundiced view of all humankind. Who knows what evil lurks and so on. Just put the featherless biped under full-spectrum lock-down hyper-surveillance twenty-four-seven. Scrutinize every mother-humping dude. Trust no one. N-O spells no in toto.

The only problem was that my paranoia was not up to the task. I found it impossible to take a jaundiced view of every swinging dick who stumbled down the pike. I’m stupid enough without pretending to be stupid. Few of these dudes warrant suspicion. I know that, you know that, who are we kidding? I had to keep reminding myself that, with Google peeping up my you know, I was, theoretically, a sitting duck. But it took energetic self-deception just to rev up my jaundiced view to cruising speed whenever some arbitrary dick-wad hove into view.

And this even though having a jaundiced view was a kick in the butt. It made me think, allowed me to dare to hope, that I could be back in the moment again. Having a jaundiced view is a fear multiplier. Being rigid with fear ( I wish) is about as close to being in the moment that someone no longer in the moment can hope for. Fear is momentous. Fear is not your grandmother’s epiphenomenon, dude. For what is feared is in the moment. When what you fear hits you in the kisser, you are in the moment, period. You can prove it with calculus. It’s the real deal. Dread, dread of a barbaric horde of Russian gangsters using Google to get my ass in a sling could be my ticket out of not being in the moment. And then it was like the air leaking from a balloon. Pursued by the proverbial four horse-dudes of the apocalypse through trackless space-time, buddy? Well, how interesting. That’s a new wrinkle. Too bad I’m not in the market for new wrinkles. I was scared shitless and not scared shitless at the same time, if that makes any sense.

Bottom line, I was having trouble jump-starting my jaundiced view. Just because you decide to have a jaundiced view doesn’t mean you will have one. I had to keep reminding myself that Google, yes that Google, was hot on my tail. I had to make digital tracks. But what if the whole Russian flap was just a screw-up, a train of ones and zeros chugging along the electronic tracks and sidetracks in the chips in a Google server, as digital as you please, when suddenly some wayward electron bumps it onto a siding that ends in a one rather than where it should have gone, zero. And that’s why everything is fucked– a stinking wayward electron!

Maybe this is all because some dude screwed up! If some dude just screwed up, my jaundiced view is toast. Screwing up doesn’t make someone a horrible person, even if it is very annoying. People do just innocently screw up. My bad, sorry, I didn’t mean it and so on. What are you going to do? A guy screws up. It’s just not, I don’t know, enough for a jaundiced view of all humankind, is it? Okay, maybe a hacker slipped in some malware. But it didn’t have to have been a hacker. It might have been a legitimate dude, just, you know, screwing up. Maybe some gadget, something that improved something that was already working but too soon, before the new gadget’s bugs were ironed out, just fizzled. It happens. It’s not the end of the world. Perhaps it was all just some twelve year old genius having fun. He’s just a kid. You can’t power a jaundiced view on that. Maybe a bird radioactively pooped on a wire, disturbing the little electrons who were then all aflutter. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean everybody is a total asshole. That wouldn’t be logical.

If someone just screwed up maybe the Russian guy thinks I dumped my identity on him! Maybe he can’t help thinking about what he doesn’t want to think about either. After all, I don’t have an A-plus, number-one, tip-top, polished identity myself. I’ve done shit. Never mind his enemy’s henchmen. Thinking I dumped my identity on him might make the Russian gangster himself mad enough to send one of his own henchmen to bump me off. I wonder if texting him would square us? IT WASN’T ME, IT WAS GOOGLE. My brains would likely be splattered all over the pavement before I could thumb ”Google.” into my smart-ass phone. But it was impossible anyway. For any of the ways Google showed for contacting him were actually ways of contacting me.

Then I noticed a guy I had seen before. He was there and then, later, when I least expected it, he was there again. My jaundiced view coughed into life. What’s this fucking “again “ shit? And since my expectation of him showing up was pretty much zippity-do-dah at all times, day and night, twenty-four seven, how did he know when I least expected it? Suspicious, right? I’m just sitting there, stirring my cappuccino, when WTF?, there’s that same smug kisser ordering a fucking latte. He’s pretending to not notice me. Normally, you see a person once and that’s it. You don’t even notice. One and done and forget about it, right? That’s normal. That’s the way it is supposed to work. Showing up, excuse me, again? Are you shitting me? This is not just my jaundiced view talking, right? Henchmen don’t have “henchman” tattooed on their foreheads. They’re whom you least expect them to be when you least expect them to be him. And that was this guy! So I thought I might best confront the dude directly.

“WTF?” I said. He turned and our eyes met. A long moment passed.

“I thought you were somebody,” he said, “but you turned out to be somebody else.”

That hit me like a ton of bricks. So true! It knocked me for a loop. Who am I to question Google? Google for Christ’s sake! If Google thinks I am the Russian guy, I must be him. Perhaps each of us is really the other. Maybe it wasn’t a screw up. I wasn’t in the moment, didn’t know how to get back into the moment because I thought I was myself whereas actually I was this Russian dude. Bingo! The pieces all began to fall into place. Google didn’t make mistakes, I did when I thought I was me. I really am him!

What proof do I have that I am not him? Memories, pictures? Bah, humbug. You can dream up memories and download pictures. Google’s bot might be feeding lies to my phone! My friends have vanished, parents gone. There are no witnesses to my past. Papers? Papers with that appalling picture I never thought looked like me. Is it me? Me younger with that ridiculous haircut? Couldn’t it be him? Or anyone! Is that all I have? Is this all just being out of the moment? I suppose my only solid proof of my identity is my ignorance of his life. I can’t even speak Russian. Shouldn’t that be proof enough of who I am or anyway who I am not? But then there is Google.

I thought I was the guy who had gotten out of the moment and was trying to get back in the moment. Ha! I never was in the moment. I was always this Russian dude. Crazy, but I thought that this latte guy might be my ticket out of not being in the moment. Either that or he would bump me off. In any case he was my only hope. My head was spinning. I seemed to be standing between mirrors.

Then I noticed his exquisite jaundiced view. His jaundiced view blew mine out of the water even though mine was on turbo just thinking he might be the Russian gangster’s enemy’s henchman. Everything about him was suspicious. Was he looking at me the way I was looking at him? Just the way he breathed set off alarms in my medulla oblongata. I could see flakiness falling like snow behind his eyeballs. He made no attempt to hide that he too had taken the precaution of being someone else.

Most people who think they have a jaundiced view don’t really have one. They merely go through the motions. They want the glory without putting in the work. They never stood out behind the garage all alone cursing existence hour after hour until they got it right. They never honed their skills. Their jaundiced view is merely jaundicedish. This dude was the real deal. You knew immediately that you were never going to know where the fuck he was coming from.

Of course, he was also not in the moment. He had kicked that can down the road until, one day, he found himself low man on some totem pole. That was the game-changer. Anyway, that was his tale of woe, fishy as it sounds. Both of us not being in the moment made what we did a reasonable facsimile of what we thought we were doing. It was like cooling your heels at a border crossing dirty. Passing for normal. Knowing that at any minute you might be toast. Paranoia honed to a razor’s edge on a whetstone of boredom, then discarded. A kind of madness that feels like a slap in the face every time you say or even think the words “a kind of”. With our faces reflecting our masks, we got closer and closer to the moment. Finally, I emitted an involuntary “WTF?” and burped up an epiphany. We were clowns pretending to be merely pretending to be clowns as we hurtled through cold, dark, empty space.

But according to whose “reason” what we did was a “reasonable” facsimile of what we thought we were doing was a question we had no answer for. So we never dipped our toes into those theological waters. And although I am still the guy who is out of the moment, I have begun to suspect that the moment is coming to me.

Michael Doliner studied with Hannah Arendt at the University of Chicago and has taught at Valparaiso University and Ithaca College. He can be reached at: