Google to Chrislip: “I Can’t See You”
One of the unintended features of Google Street View, the web service that displays photos of any address in the country, is that it reminds those who left small towns why they moved away in the first place. They look at the low, gray clouds over the bleak hamlet they left behind and their current life feels better, if only by comparison. Google has unintentionally created a cure for homesickness.
Unless they are from Chrislip, Michigan, which, according to Google, does not exist.
Search for “Chrislip, Michigan” and you’ll find this Journal, but not the place where it is written. Try the same query with Google Maps and see what comes up. Our town is nowhere to be found. Overnight we’ve become one of those mythical places like Shangri-La or Santaland. We’d be Lake Wobegon except that all of our children are below average.
But there was a time when Google believed in Chrislip. They rode into town with that weird car with all of the cameras mounted on its roof. Google came here with the noble intention of documenting the existence of our fair city. How did we repay them?
First, Sheriff Kennedy demonstrated that no one is above the law by giving Google a speeding ticket. Then our sororities showed Google their breasts. Our fraternities showed them their buttocks, and then became crude. The high school chess club staged light-saber fights on Main Street. Our firefighters waved to the camera while a house went up in flames behind them. Mayor Presnell was caught urinating in public; old hat to us, but new to Google.
That apparently was the last straw. Rumor has it that the experience so angered Google founder Sergey Brin that he told the pilot of his personal jet not to even fly over Northern Michigan ever again.
And that’s how we became the town that never was. But this story doesn’t have to end there. I therefore encourage those cities that Google hasn’t yet visited to deface their signs to read “Chrislip, Michigan”. My goal is for there to be a Chrislip in every state. That way, Google’s nowhere will be everywhere.