Whilst the rest of the sane world was facing reality in the new year, last week I was on a quest. My mission? To meet myself.
What had started off as a mother’s mis-typing of my email address some two years ago has led to one of the most bizarre afternoons of my youngish life.
Just before Christmas, I received a Linkedin request from my namesake, Simon Burgess. Nothing weird in that you may think. After all, one of the first things you do when you join a social network is look yourself up, right?
The narcissism doesn’t stop there. Type your name into Google and you can have a great afternoon discovering what those fortunate enough to find themselves with your name look like, do, think etc. Some of my alter egos are an economist at the University of Bristol, a Labour parlimentary candidate, and “the flamboyant managing director of British Insurance”.
Furthermore try typing in your name as a url. proMotion (www.simonburgess.com) is written by Simon Burgess, the creative director at Canadian agency Elemental Motion Media. We get all over the world.
Anyway, back to the story…
So even though connecting with namesakes on social networks is not unusual, this request was different from the beginning.
Firstly, the mistaken identity situation.
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
Only because you have the same name as me, I get emails in my gmail account for you (though these have stopped now)…
It turns out that Simon and I have almost exactly the same email address. In fact they are different by one keystroke. One tiny but rather significant letter. Pretty much as soon as I got a gmail account Simon Burgess (we’ll call him SB Senior) started getting my emails. Mainly from my mum. Being a nice chap SB Senior emailed my mum to let her know of her mistake, and thought nothing of it. Being a complete techno-nitwit my mum kept sending emails. As did various random people from Mexico City.
Whilst obviously annoying, I like to think that this tom foolery piqued SB Senior’s interest. So he did a search for me on LinkedIn and had a little look at my profile.
This is me on linked in. (You can connect with me if you like. Especially if you are called Simon Burgess.)
And this is where things got weird.
…and most weirdly of all (I told you) I worked at centaur at precision marketing from 90-91!
Now for those of you not so familiar with the classic UK Direct Marketing magazine, Precision Marketing, this may not seem like such a coincidence. It could happen to anyone. Except that this is a tiny trade magazine, we both worked there for our first jobs going into media sales, and worked there exactly ten years apart, SB Senior starting in ’90 whilst I began my slightly longer tenure in 2000. Furthermore, with Simon working in digital media, and this being the way my career has gone, our paths had to cross at some point.
Deciding to meet up for post Christmas drinks was a slightly daunting and exciting prospect. I was fully prepared to ditch the drinks after half an hour for a “meeting” if it turned out that actually not all Simon Burgesses were as amazing as me (had to say it) but luckily it turns out we’re all (at least two of us anyway) good lads. We ended up boring our fellow drinkers (Simon´s brother on one hand and his boss on the other) with our amazement at how weird the whole situation was, and then went on to have a ridiculously drunken pub crawl to celebrate the sheer Burgessness of it all.
So all in all I guess why I’m telling this tale, apart from outlining the random set of coincidences that went to bring it all together, is to say that social media, and I guess the internet in general, can have very surprising but rewarding results in “real life”. I know Dave Gorman got there first and told his version in a much more witty way but I don’t care cos I think it’s a great story and will be dining out on it for years to come.
Go on, do it yourself, meet yourself. It’ll be worth it even if it’s just so that you can tell someone a story like this.
Oh yeah, and Simon Burgess’s wife has the same name as mine. Now that is weird.
NB We’re gonna start a club so if you’re an SB get in touch