I’m basically the Invisible Man

In 2008, I ‘ran’ for a position on the inaugural OCP Advisory Board. The process involved sending an email to a few friends and asking them to nominate me. My email began as follows:

As the only radical environmentalist Orthodox Jew from Seattle who loves The Office and really likes orange on campus, I sometimes feel like a minority of approximately one.

But I also understand that each and every person has a similar list of adjectives that also makes him or her entirely unique.

I’m not sure that’s true anymore; lately I’ve been feeling more and more like The Invisible Man (of the Wellesian, and not Ellisonian variety; note the ‘The’). Let’s take two recent examples.

The first requires a bit of a backstory:

I’ve known Zvi (who shall not be named) since 2005. Most of what he says makes sense, but one thing he’s consistently insisted since that time doesn’t quite: that I look like a student at the University of Wisconsin. Don’t ask me what that means; if you’re curious, ask him.

In any event, when I saw the following post in my Birthright trip’s Facebook group, my initial thought was ‘this is too perfect’. My second thought was ‘I should share this with the world’. You’re welcome:

Canaan goes to Berkeley, where Zvi happens to study. Guess where Sami goes.

(Hint: University of Wisconsin-Madison.)

And while I do love my coincidences, my main takeaway is ‘mordechai looks like so many other people!’ I look like everyone! – that is to say, no one.

To make matters worse, when I arrived ‘home’ this evening – to my friend’s apartment in New York – he asked me ”Who does google think you are?’ Weird question, but I knew what he was talking about: I’d seen some recent discussions/posts (in the wake of google’s updated privacy policy) of how hilariously off the company can peg users (e.g. a young woman becoming a 65 year-old man). I was looking forward to being a teenage girl, or maybe an adorable bubbe, and it did a pretty good job of nailing my interests (basically travel and photography), so I definitely wasn’t prepared for what google actually had in store for me:

It’s nice to imagine that I defy categorization, but at the end of the day it would be nicer to suggest something more than the most noncommittal response of all time.

I imagine Sergey Brin sitting in his cubicle, sorting through profiles: ”this guy is just like three guys ago… show him – whateva. next!’


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