The internet is renowned for its seedier side, and the way sites you wouldn’t want your children seeing can pop up just by putting what seem to be harmless terms into search engines. But the internet can also be very prissy, and sometimes in bizarre ways.
I use a handy website called Thesaurus.com so that I can make myself look more intelligent by substituting everyday words with obscure and impressive ones. That is one of the primary roles of an epistolarian, obviously.
Yesterday, when I was providing feedback for an author, I wanted to advise him to ‘sex up’ an aspect of his writing. (Sadly I forget what it was now, but trust me, it made sense at the time.) I didn’t actually want to use that term, however (it’s commonly used without any actual sexual connotation, but it still somehow didn’t seem quite appropriate in a report on a story for young children) but an appropriate alternative just wouldn’t come to mind.
Thus I turned to trusty Thesaurus.com – which immediately became offended and leapt into prude mode.
Alert: Filtering has occurred which reduced direct exposure to sexually explicit content.
It refused to offer me any alternatives in normal way, BUT it helpfully provided me with a list of websites where it felt, based on my search terms, I might feel more at home: places where I could buy sex toys, women who were apparently prepared to do all sorts of things at a very reasonable price, and so on.
Which struck me as not only kind of ironic, but very, very silly!