I like to think that I'm a reasonably intelligent guy, who has a (probably) better than average grasp on basic statistics. Because of this, I'm under no illusion that I'm the only Mike Coon out and about these days.
One of my uncles has managed to trace our family tree back to a John MacCoone, who apparently came to America sometime during the 18th century. He traced various ancestors throughout New England, found a story about the rescue of some family members from Mohicans, and followed the family to Ohio, where my most immediate ancestors lived.
Based on the geographical movements of my family, and the knowledge that we've been here for going on 300 years, I can only imagine how many Coons are floating around the US. I know that Gene Coon was a producer on Star Trek, and he's not even a part of the genealogical research my uncle has done. He may have been a distant relation, but we don't really know. There's also Brad Coon, who when I last checked, was playing AAA baseball in the Angels farm system. Again, as far as I know, he doesn't pop up in my immediate family, but he's from Ohio, so he's probably connected somehow. Point is, we might not be as numerous as Smiths, but there are lots of us.
And we probably don't even have to discuss the name Michael. It's out there. A lot. I read somewhere once that Michael was the most popular name for boys in America during multiple years in the late 1970's and early 1980's, and I can't imagine that its popularity has waned very much. Most of my classrooms and jobs over the years have included at least one Mike or Michael besides me, so the general likelihood of putting together say, 500 men with the surname Coon and finding a few Michaels is probably pretty high.
All this speculation is leading somewhere very personal -- bear with me.
A few years ago I discovered a Mike Coon club on Facebook. It was a public group (apparently gone now, because a quick search doesn't turn it up), and all of its members were named Mike Coon. I seem to remember seeing 14 members, and neither I nor my uncle Mike were members, so now we're up to 16 of us. I'm sure there are others out there who simply never found the Facebook group or who don't even use the internet. I know from the experience of creating usernames for websites over the years that I won't always get the username "mikecoon". Obviously others find that username relevant.
I have been receiving email for some time from Redbox, verifying rentals and returns, and giving me advice about new releases. I don't rent from Redbox using my email address. We've always used Jessika's email address anytime we've rented from Redbox. So I did a little research, and these Redbox rentals are happening in Colorado Springs, CO.
This is when I go to Google.
Sure enough -- there's a real estate agent named Mike Coon living in Colorado Springs, CO. Now, his email address is probably very similar to mine, since people tend to use variations on their names for email addresses. I do wonder if he's ever questioned why he doesn't get confirmations from Redbox, though. All of these experiences are relatively innocuous, and no different than what every John Smith in the world probably endures all the time.
Now I've recently bought my first real smartphone, and I have this unlimited data plan from my provider, so I've been playing with apps like crazy. This weekend I decided to join the Instagram crowd. I take pictures of my kids and of funny things, and it seems like an cool way to automatically link to Facebook. So I go to set up my account, and the website tells me that there's already an account linked to that email address. Now, I've had the same email address since Gmail was in closed beta, so I know I haven't typed anything wrong, but I start thinking that maybe I started an Instagram account at some point and just forgot about it. So, of course, I click on "Forgot Password". I get an email with a link to reset my password, follow the link, change my password -- bingbangboom -- I'm in.
In front of me on my phone is a chronicle of somebody else's life. Mike Coon eating pho. Mike Coon at some kind of Glen Beck event (definitely someone else). Mike Coon's newborn baby. And the Mike Coon in the pictures is not me. Except that based on the email address of record, if somebody wants to know about the man with that email address, they get -- him. Why would someone use an email address they don't own to create web accounts? Does he want my email address? Mine is simple. I got my favorite username because I was an early adopter on Gmail.
I felt violated. I felt compromised. My wife was NOT attracted to this other Mike Coon. And worst of all, I don't want people to think that I watch Glen Beck. I can accept that other Mike Coons are out there going about their Mike Coon-y business, but when they're using my email address to record their lives on Instagram, that just -- weirds me out.
My first instinct was to delete the account and move on, creating a new one with my email address, but when I went to delete the account, the website told me that the user name associated with that email address could not be reused if I deleted the account. What if this other Mike Coon is really attached to that user name? I can't just delete it on a whim. As it turns out, I'm a nicer person than I give myself credit for. I started searching Facebook for a Mike Coon who looked like the Mike Coon in the pictures. No luck. So I searched Facebook for his Instagram friends. No luck there either. I sort of surprised myself and made an honest attempt to find this guy and say, "Hey, you used the wrong email address. Send me your real one, and I'll change it on the account."
So I deleted him.