There’s something uniquely web-world weird about typing in the name of a long-ago friend into a search box – say, Facebook’s? – and discovering his/her Doppelgaenger: the person who has the same name and could – just possibly could be the person you were searching for, but could also be a completely different person altogether.
In days of yore, you might have simply speculated on the similarities you discover. But now you might also have a photo – an image – to go with the facts you recall, and it makes you wonder: Is this the person I knew x-years ago? And you grab on to geography (let’s see, White Rock is close enough to Victoria, or, Mattapan is close enough to Cambridge) to make a “rational” case for why (or why not) this ghost may (or may not) be the old girlfriend or the old boyfriend.
What do you remember? That your friend was sent to a Federal penitentiary? How do you search that? (Probably not.) That s/he married a single dad/mom? (Try to recall the kid’s name – see if s/he is on Facebook!) That her family owned a car dealership or the father became a mayor?
You search – and come up with so many replicates! Who needs science fiction: your double – older, younger, and/or geographically displaced – is out there.
Barring a positive identification, you’re left with a ghost – and doubt.
Frustrating, yet thrilling: doubt.
You put it away – file it, knowing you can return to it at some later date. The web-found replicates carry on.