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Up, the Gmail Way

Up, the Gmail Way


When her ex's Google searches became intertwined with hers, Jenny Jedeikin finally had had enough.

It all began with one e-mail.

After I stopped speaking to my ex, I wanted to send her an anonymous note. So I opened a Gmail account using what I thought was a cleverly disguised pseudonym: a portion of my last name spelled backward. The sole purpose was to send her this line: "There will always be a pure and beautiful angel watching over you."

I was cautious about making contact with her, since two weeks before I sent the e-mail I received a threatening letter from her lawyer telling me never to contact her again. The lawyer cited two recent occasions when I had left flowers for her at her doorstep as examples of the type of contact she didn't want. She had gotten an attorney involved just to annoy me -- I had done nothing legally questionable.

A week later, as if nothing had happened, we were in the car, on our way to having yet another dragging-the-relationship-out-beyond-logic dinner, because neither one of us had the guts to end the mutually destructive thing it had become. Suddenly she turned to me with a big grin and said, "Jenny, I know everything about what you've been up to lately. Everything. After I got that e-mail from you" -- I was chagrined to know she had figured it out so easily -- "I guessed your password and got into your Gmail account."

I gulped.

"How's the Lesbotronic dating service working for you?" she asked.

My mind careened as I tried to recall how much of my brain had been downloaded and syndicated for her viewing pleasure -- in anyone's Gmail account, you can read a detailed record of whatever that person has Googled just by clicking the "Web history" link. So what if we had shared a bed for five years? I would never have shown anyone my Google searches.

The next morning I logged on, clicked on my Google search history, and began reading through the graveyard of my curdled curiosity from the past week. In addition to scores of searches for my work, many made visible my vulnerable heart. I had Googled "how to get over someone you love," astrological compatibility sites, my ex's name several times using several spelling variations, and psychological terms for fancy mental diseases I believe she suffers from. I Googled "same-sex dating services," signed up for one, and then received a bunch of "matches." Unbeknownst to me, because I never checked my Gmail account, my ex had read my profile and even sent me an e-mail asking for a date.

But the topper? I had Googled erotic stories, the search terms revealing intimate details of my fantasies that I would never dream of sharing. What could be worse? I wondered. I may as well walk through the streets naked with my favorite electronic toy glued to the top of my head.

Then I noticed the oddest thing: When I got down to the newest histories, there were searches that didn't look at all familiar. At 7:15 that morning someone had Googled my ex-husband and sister-in-law -- and it wasn't me. My ex's searches were being linked to mine.

Suffice it to say that because she had broken into my Gmail account and had not logged out, all of her searches were being recorded in my history. And the next few days, until she finally logged out, I observed with interest. Seeing her brain up close like this wasn't pretty. It began to give me the necessary perspective to finally understand that she was too obsessive and insecure to have a rational relationship with.

There is one last Google to this story, though. We had a joint therapy session scheduled for the same day that I was flying out of town, and she agreed to drop me off at the airport afterward. But when I got in her car, tucked discreetly in my back pocket were printouts from Google of the locations of several nearby train stations, just in case the session went badly and I needed to find my way to the airport alone.

The relationship was finally over, and I was a mess inside, but I was taking back my independence one private Google search at a time.

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