A few years ago Pete Gnatkowski from Carrizozo, New Mexico, wrote me, I hope in jest, and wondered which Lee Pitts I was. He’d Googled my name and found that there was a Lee Pitts African American comedian, a well known preacher, champion fisherman and a murderer. Talk about identity theft!
If you think you’re important or have accomplished anything in life just Google your name. I did and found there were 17,600,000 results for Lee Pitts. I think Pete must have wandered down the list a ways because when I Googled my name the numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, results were me. Number 4 was a black guy from Fort Meyers, Florida, who was on TV. I once gave a speech in Fort Meyers and while I was there I watched that Lee Pitts on TV and found myself wishing I was half as entertaining as he was.
Here’s another coincidence. The #9 Lee Pitts is a football player for Azuza Pacific College and his grandfather was Elijah Pitts who played 11 seasons in the NFL winning two Super Bowl rings with Green Bay. When I was a youngster I used to lie and brag to my classmates that Elijah was my uncle, not knowing he was black. Interestingly, his mother’s name was Johnnie Pitts which was what relatives called my brother John when he was little. It seems there are a lot more African American Lee Pitts than there are California/Okie crossbreds like me.
One of the Google entries screamed, “We found Lee Pitts”! I didn’t know I was lost so I clicked on that site and of the top 20 responses not one of them was me. At least seven Lee Pitts were women, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that it doesn’t do much for my macho self esteem to have a lady’s name.
Making a person feel inconsequential must be Google’s goal. I found a Lee Pitts who was an award winning journalist for CBS who’d reported from all over the world including places I’d never heard of, like Malawi. Lee Pitts the swim instructor was “one of the most decorated swimmers of his generation,” but I can barely tread water. There was an actor and producer named Lee Pitts who was in Star Trek but I’ve never even watched it.
It bothered me that one of the Google responses was, “Here is the criminal record for Lee Pitts.” But I swear I’m innocent. I didn’t do it! I suppose it could be worse though because my parents could’ve named me Earl Pitts, which seems to be the number one name for murderers in American history.
Google also directed me to something called People Looker which said I was 92 years old! I may look it but I’m really only 67. All this makes me wonder, is it too late to change my name?
I finally gave up on Google and went to Wikipedia to try and find myself. According to them there’s no one by that name. The closest they could come was an old time film star named Zazu Pitts and, of course, there’s Brad Pitt, who judging by his appearance, suave and sophisticated manner and ability to bed beautiful women, is in no way related to me.
Next I tried Amazon who kicked me off years ago because I didn’t offer the required ten titles to sell. So now they let other people sell my books, including a used copy of People Who Live At The End of Dirt Roads for only $124.27! You can buy a brand new copy from me for only $12.95.
Then there are the word thieves who attach their name to my work including one “columnist” who copied my columns word for word for years and got away with it. People take my columns, add photos and music, attach their names to them and then blast them all over the Internet. I’ve had at least one instance where a friend sent me something he thought I’d enjoy that I’d written!
It pains me to watch as we sacrifice hometown newspapers and real books in favor of Facebook, Kindles, Nooks and Twitter. Half of all the newspapers that used to run my column are now defunct and most bookstores and libraries are on life support.
And you wonder why I hate the Internet?