Thank you my dear Virgin Broadband for a really interesting and edifying experience today, when your nice shiny new government mandated ‘web-safe’ internet filter accidentally got switched on for a while.
I must confess it was quite a shock at first, when my writing lead me to research some minor specifics of feminine hygiene (I am NOT taking any chances with even such mundane things when it’s probably second nature to half my bloody readers!), only to come up against a brick wall plastered with talk of pornography, hate, drugs and suicide.
There was a second shock a bit later . . . I would not have equated the minor surgery that I recently underwent and was trying to research as anything to do with hate or porn either – and likewise recovering from it hasn’t driven me to suicide yet. But hey – always happy to be corrected about these things!
Shock number three was that image on tumblr that came out of nowhere of some woman or other with what looked like a butcher’s meat hook through her perineum. I will chalk that up to ‘extreme body piercing’ and ‘some people like to do weird things to themselves and who am i to judge?’ and then try and forget I ever saw it. I am sure I will survive . . . but apologies in advance if cosmetic meat hooks turn up in some story or other in about 10 years time . . .
Virgin, I fully intended never EVER to touch these filters, even with a six foot pole. But I am kind of glad it got switched on for a while. It was an education, showing very clearly that they don’t just sit on the ‘useless’ fence, they plunge right over into the badly maintained and thorny garden of ‘worse than useless’. If anyone doesn’t believe me, just try the following little experiment. Switch it on for a bit, go to Tumblr or something similar – even wikimedia commons – and just run a few searches. Not for things you might want to discuss later maybe, but just try it. And tell me how effective they are.
Then for gawd sake turn it off again!
That’s the useless part. They don’t protect anyone at all from anything at all except maybe from more focused and specific research. You will always be able to find the porn, and if it’s hate and racism you want, just go to the YouTube comments sections! The worse than useless part is the false positives – and beyond that, the further cementing of many natural normal parts of life as somehow ‘dirty’ when they really desperately need liberating for all our sakes – the simple act of trying to constrain the frank and unmoderated discussion and sharing of information and experiences – the pretending that certain things don’t exist when they really do exist and need addressing on many levels. Even making users imagine they are somehow ‘safe’ when they aren’t . . .
I am not often shocked or disturbed these days, but even I draw the line at meat hooks! That time – that ONE time – I might just have appreciated a bit of protection. But hey – I’m never going to get it without damaging everything else in ways that are beyond unacceptable to me. I am aware of and accept that inescapable fact. You can’t program or legislate human taste. So, as you go down the path of life, you just have to accept that you are going to find a few roses as you go – and the occasional meat hook . . .
I can’t blame you, Virgin, really of course. It’s the government’s fault for pushing these useless things onto us with all the usual crap about some kind of morality that never represented anything meaningful. I also appreciate the fact that you were the last of the major ISPs to bow to government pressure on this. That is something I will remember. But neither we nor you, Virgin, should just quietly accept it when they mess us around and interfere in things it is clear they don’t understand. People in general need to think about this – need to realize that these filters are about far far more than somehow blocking things that you personally regard as icky. And then SWITCH THEM OFF! Take charge of your own internet instead, people, and make your own decisions!