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All in a Name


There’s no telling what we can get out of a name these days, what with the ever-so-mighty “interweb” as the present-day source of instant information, and the burgeoning of various social networking sites—Facebook being the most prominent as of late.

If you’re observant enough—and if you fancy yourself an amateur sleuth or a resourceful investigator who knows how to connect the dots—finding stuff about someone becomes astoundingly simple. Even finding out someone’s name comes easily, especially if you already have somewhere (or someone, or something) to begin your search with.

For starters, maybe there’s this certain someone you see all the time, perhaps at church, while riding the train or bus, at the coffee shop, restaurant, or bar you frequent. And for whatever reason, you find yourself interested in this person, and so you’d like to know more about him/her, starting, naturally, with that someone’s name. Or maybe you just like putting names to faces and/or vice versa. Either way, you have got to know this person’s name. Whatever it takes.

Now I don’t know about you, but I prefer the sheer thrill of discovering things for myself rather than getting the facts by asking (which is the easy, boring way, of course). Also, I live for the unique elation I feel when I eventually get the answer on my own.

And so my search starts with someone I think (or know) is connected to my person of interest (POI): could be a relative, a friend, whatever. As long as I think there’s a connection there, I run an online search on it. I consider myself lucky if my POI or connecting person (CP) is actually closer to me than, say, a total stranger, like maybe a friend of a friend, or a relative of a friend. If not, everything else gets a lot tougher.

(Obviously, the success of this approach hinges on the POI and/or CP having an online trail for you to follow. Luckily for me, the strangers that I develop a keen interest on all have an online trail that I can sniff out simply by using Google.)

Sometimes, the CP’s themselves actually make my search easier. A classic example of this is when I get to their social network webpage to find pictures with captions identifying everyone in the photos in an organized way. All I have to do is find my POI, match the face with the name in the caption, and voilà. Or (in the case of Facebook), there are special instances when positioning the mouse pointer over a specific person in a photo will display that person’s name (if the person who uploaded the said photo was diligent enough to input these “name tags” manually).

I do realize that all this sounds really stalker-ish, but I mean no harm. I’m just super-dee-duper curious and I’d like to put a name to the face, but I’d prefer not to start an actual conversation with my POI (at least for now). The approach I explained above is but one way of getting to know more about that oh-so-interesting person, without having to talk to anyone and risk exposing my motives.

So, how come I suddenly posted an entry about all this? Well, I just searched for someone’s name (like right before I wrote and published this post)—to a great deal of success.

My POI (let’s call this person “Dimple”, as in the body part) I see all the time at church, for about two years now. But I only really noticed HER (there’s the pronoun) at the start of 2010. I have found myself interested in Dimple because, well, she’s quite the looker.

I’ve spent the early part of this year (on and off, of course) trying to find her online, to no avail. Until I had a very reliable and as-close-as-it-gets CP: Dimple’s mother.

Last Saturday evening, my family and I attended the 60th birthday party of my godmother, and, to my surprise and shock, we shared a table with Dimple’s mother and grandmother. And no, Dimple wasn’t there.

So, my mom and Dimple’s mom were talking, about how my mom loves to make leche flan on her spare time (some we eat, some she sells to friends), while Dimple’s mom bakes cakes (some her family eats, some she sells) when she’s not too busy working as a dentist (ironic, I know). And then the moment that made my day happened: the topic of Facebook came up. By the end of the party, they decided to add each other as friends, exchanging e-mail addresses just before parting ways.

As it turns out, I needn’t bother to look for the opportunity—the opportunity found me.

This morning, I proceeded to hack my mom’s Facebook account and I’m proud to say I got the correct password after my third try. This, of course, is not so much a testament to how good of a hacker I am, only that I know my mother fairly well.

I looked around my mom’s friends list, found Dimple’s mom, clicked her name, and off to her profile page. After a click or two, I got to her photo albums, where she had a family photo with captions identifying everyone in the picture. I could’ve gotten the order by which she named the people wrong, but I’m fairly certain I’ve found out Dimple’s real name at last:


With the help of trusty search engine Google, I started a whole new search, this time, using her name. To my surprise, I was able to learn more about her than I had originally intended.

To be honest, I got lucky. All the progress I’ve made so far as knowing her name is all thanks to my mom and her mom deciding to be friends on Facebook. But had I not paid attention at the party, had I not done my legwork, I would’ve never found out Dimple’s name and all the other things about her that only make her all the more interesting to me.

Ultimately—after having fun in the entire course of finding out not just Dimple’s real name, but also a bunch of other interesting things about her, and the elation of finally knowing her by her real name—being able to put a name to her pretty face has led me to a better understanding of who she is, and what I can do with the things I’ve recently discovered about her.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 28.November.2010 7:47 am

    Great post! People need to be aware of how easy it is with new wave technology to do a background check or people search and make sure who you’re talking to is who they say they are.

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