Google Thinks I’m Dead (I know otherwise.)

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For much of the last week, I have been trying to persuade the world’s most powerful search engine to remove my photo from biographical details that belong to someone else. A search for “Rachel Abrams” revealed that Google had mashed my picture from The New York Times’s website with the Wikipedia entry for a better-known writer with the same name, who died in 2013.

My father pointed this out in a quizzical text message, but the error seemed like an inconsequential annoyance best ignored indefinitely. To anyone who knows me, it is clearly not me — I am not married, my mother’s name is not Midge, and I was not born in 1951.

But when an acquaintance said she was alarmed to read that I had passed away, it seemed like an error worth correcting.

And so began the quest to convince someone at Google that I am alive.

This Scottish man’s Twitter feed is blowing up for all the wrong reasons

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Remember John Lewis, the American computer science educator who’s forever being mistaken for both a congressman and a British department store?

Well, he’s not the only one.

With increasing mentions of Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon cropping up in the news, one man from Scotland has found himself on the receiving end up a huge surge of misdirected tweets.

Introducing @SteveBannon — Scottish man living in the southwest of England, father of three, and very much not a senior advisor to Donald Trump

Help! I’m getting emails meant for someone who has the same name as me.

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I call this conundrum a case of digital misidentity… “I have a Gmail folder called Other Sarah Browns where I keep all of these,” one Sarah Brown told me. “By now I can easily identify the mail for the four main Sarah Browns (one in Oregon, one in Georgia, one in England, and one in Scotland), and I know so much about their lives it feels illegal. One of the OSBs makes a lot of poor decisions, like joining f– at 2 a.m. but not understanding how to change her password. One OSB ordered $99.99 worth of pencils from Amazon. One ordered the same depressing thing from Dominos (Philly cheesesteak pizza) every night at 9 p.m.”

My Sarah Brown shares the “truly insane” messages on Twitter, as does Danielle Henderson, who gets notes for Danielle Hendersons in three countries, “everything from car maintenance notices (time to change your fluids!), Sephora receipts, school notices, and job application responses…

These messages can be a funny sort of reminder of how much we all have in common, how similar humans and their lives can be. Sure, we all order different things at Dominoes (“I love getting the Domino’s pizza order receipts from one of the Danielle Hendersons; homegirl really loves a fully loaded pie,” says Henderson) but maybe we’re more similar than we’d like to imagine. “Weirdly, one OSB had a baby the same week I did,” says Brown. “We both had a boy. Those were some weird emails to read in a sleep-deprived fugue. I was like, ‘Wait, do I have an Aunt Nancy?'”

…”It makes the world seem smaller in a good way,” says Henderson. “But it also freaks me out that someone could receive sensitive information about ME just because our parents were not terribly original, you know?”

The John Lewis Christmas advert is out, and the real John Lewis is bracing himself for the Twitter onslaught

Which came first - John Lewis or John Lewis?

As this article says, “a computer science educator from Virginia didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he snagged the @JohnLewis username on Twitter”:

Lewis, who describes himself as a “computer science educator, father of four, social liberal, atheist and not a retail store,” receives numerous messages every day from mistaken Twitter users asking him about discounts, making complaints, and talking about the shop’s Christmas advert.

… A lesser man would change his handle, set his account to private, or abandon Twitter entirely – but not Lewis.

Multiple times a day he takes it upon himself to reply and correct people mistaking him for the shop, turning himself into something of a Twitter celebrity.

He’s so popular, in fact, that some people have accused him of being a fictional marketing character created by the retail giant – but could John Lewis really be that clever?

Update, December 2, 2015: Here’s a fun article where John Lewis (the retailer) has sent John Lewis (the @JohnLewis guy) a telescope to thank him for being such a good sport.