If you’ve ever Google-searched the name “Chloë Filson” (or “Chloe Filson”, without the fancy punctuation)—which I have done a number of times, it being my name—then you’ve no doubt encountered a little blog called Who Is Chloë Filson?.
Yes, it’s about me. And yes, for a few years it made mine a recognized name in certain circles (just last year I met someone who said “where do I know that name from? Oh! Andrew’s blog!”). Yep, Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith, you were once my Internet frienemy.
I can’t get rid of these blogs. I’ve tried all sorts of password recovery options and forum browsing, but there’s just no cracking in. I gave it my best, in an effort to control the Internet presence of my name (and, by proxy, my character), but to no avail. So instead I will explain it to you: the whole, bizarre, funny blog war that was.
Andrew Smith vs. Chloë Filson
One afternoon, in April of 2005, while I sat in my room and studied Linguistics (or something), I received two emails. “Have you seen this blog?” My friends had typed excitedly. “It’s about you!”
But I wasn’t entirely shocked. I had heard of Andrew. We had mutual friends who had been telling us for years that we would “get along so well!” if only we knew one another. In fact, that was what had started the whole thing; no doubt a final straw had pushed him over the edge into full-on blogging.
After reading the first few posts and consulting at length with my BFF, it was decided that I would respond in kind. I signed up for Blogger and chose the same layout Andrew had chosen, but with inverted colours. I called it “The Andrew Smith Project”.
Having recently been delightfully brainwashed by “Amélie”, I had all kinds of romantic visions in my head—not of potential romantic love, merely a pure inclination toward romantic notions. That is, I began to imagine simultaneously unraveling this mystery and creating a mystery of my own, with arts and crafts and everything (a lá the photo collage scenes in “Amélie”). I imagined a virtual chase of grand, well-written, innovative proportions. I imagined, albeit vaguely, triumph.
I didn’t imagine our eventual meeting (who could have?), and I soon learned that this project would take on a different tone.
Andrew went all out. He interviewed mutual friends and acquaintances, he speculated about me based on photographs he could find, and he found every mention of me on the Internet and wrote about my past exploits. He even reverse-searched my phone number and put up a map of my house (in the early days of Google maps, when it still felt kind of intrusive to see your home online).
Here’s an example of his willingness to go to great lengths:
On 4/28/05, andrew nicholas mccann smith xii wrote:
Dear members of Moneen,
I have a couple of questions to ask you fellows. I am doing research on someone named “Chloë Filson.” I really don’t know much about who she is. One thing I do know is that half of Moneen stayed in her dormroom at Trent University in Peterborough. Please do relate any information you have on Chloë Filson or on the evening you spent in her dorm room.
Any information you could provide me would be grand.
Peter Krpan Mon, May 2, 2005 at 5:38 PM
I don’t recall staying in anyones dorm room at Trent. In fact, we were all together staying at my friends house after we played in Peterburrough.
What a weird email.
And Andrew’s conclusion:
This then questions the integrity of Maaika who told me that Chloe told her that. Apparently, we have a weak link.
* He was right about the weak link; I don’t know a Maaikae (though I had some contact with her), and Moneen did not sleep in my dorm room. Let it be known that I would not have let a group of men sleep in my dorm room (not that there was even enough space for that). What event does his post refer to, then? Well, a friend of mine, who had a dorm room near my own, knew some of the members of Moneen. A group of pals from our residence drove to Hamilton from Peterborough to see one of their shows, after which my friend hung out with the band. The real version is so much less tantalizing.
And that’s just one of the speculations about that I had little chance to refute. My response blog was not a platform for refutation, you see; it was it’s own investigation—though I did defend myself occasionally. I also posted interviews with Andrew’s friends and photos I acquired of him, and I wrote a poem about his dog.
It took me a while to “get” Andrew’s humor, and in the meantime I was slightly irked (by his wild speculations and publishing of my personal details), so I responded with posts of my own that had an abrasive tone. I do regret this, but I also feel that my disquietude was justified. Mostly, though, I tried to be funny and entertaining and generally blog-worthy (exhibit A).
I finally met Andrew a couple of months later, through a conspiracy of our friends in Toronto. I was at a friend’s home, the friend stepped out, and Andrew suddenly arrived. There was no fanfare, no fireworks. There was only a slightly awkward conversation, a broken mug and a disagreement about who came out as the winner. He thought me, and I thought him.
Today, we are as estranged as we ever were—though we can legitimately claim to know one another. We’re even Facebook friends (whatever that’s good for).
Ah, the 2000s—what crazy years.