Bah! More Internet filtering issues came up again at work this week and frankly, I'm FRIGGIN' tired of Internet filters and Internet filtering and I'm tired of talking sensibly, rationally, and professionally about it. Here's the bottom line. It is sad but true and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but THERE IS NO TOOTH FAIRY and INTERNET AND E-MAIL FILTERING DOESN'T WORK!!! Get over it!!! While I'm sure that it makes some people feel better to be doing "something," the harsh reality is that objectively, filters aren't really protecting a whole lot 'o kids.
We have this freakin' Internet filter that randomly blocks all kinds of useful sites. It also randomly, sends kids warnings about language when they use the term "slimeball" to refer to a slimeball-ish character in the book that they're reading. Okay … "slimeball" might be used to cyberbully some poor middle schooler someplace, but in the same forum another kid calls the character an "asshole" and … the filter does nothing. WTF???
It all just gives me a headache. In the big building, I watch what kids do online pretty closely (we have Big Brother software that the kiddos have named, "Eagle Eye.") and the wonderful reality is that 99.5% of the kids do nothing inappropriate or wrong online. They sometimes spend too much time obsessing about a stupid game. They sometimes sit next to each other and send e-mails back and forth like, "'sup." They sometimes try to watch an episode of Ugly Betty on abc.com when they should be doing math homework, but all that stuff is pretty damned tame if you ask me.
We keep talking around and around and around and around about what to block and what not to block until I think my head is going to implode. Unfortunately, a lot of adults just buy into the fear mongering and in the sincere interest of protecting kids, they're afraid to let kids onto an unfiltered Internet. The arguments sound like this, "There are HORRIBLE, HEINOUS things on blogs out there that NOBODY should see." You know, I have to admit that, THAT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE and really, if somebody wanted to find pictures of really creepy nasty stuff, no filter is going to stop them from finding it. The thing is, though, that I read something like 150 RSS feeds from blogs and sites just about everyday and while I know that I've come across some pretty raunchy pictures from time to time, it really doesn't happen all that often. On the other hand I learn aan incredible amount by reading those sources so on balance, our filters really are doing a lot more harm than good. The other thing is that what I always want to ask (but because I like my job … never do) is, "Jeez, what kind of creepy crap are you searching for to pull that stuff up, dude???"
Yup … THAT IS THE QUESTION!!!