Monday, September 8, 2014

Caution: Unmarked Obstacles Ahead

As a blogger, I hate Internet filters. As a skier, I respect the color orange.
I've been skiing since I was nine years old. At the top of every lift I've ever seen is a sign that reads Caution: Unmarked Obstacles ahead. I thought those were incredibly stupid. Why didn't ski patrol go around marking those obstacles instead of putting a useless banner at the top of the mountain?
Years of skiing taught me the answer. It's impossible to mark every obstacle. At the beginning of the season, skiers can easily avoid a small pine tree. Several weeks later that tree is now a shrub that can trip them up. Later on, enough snow has fallen to bury the tree completely. At the end of the season the snow melts and the tree is an obstacle again.
Setting up an Internet filter is like trying to put orange markers around every tree, bush, rock, post, and dip on the mountain. It won't work and it certainly won't teach you how to navigate the terrain safely. Making that effort is a waste of ski patrol's time.
So instead of trying to set up your orange tape, remind yourself of the unmarked obstacles. Browse smart. Ski away from anything that looks like it might hurt you. Call out to your friends if they're  headed the wrong way. And of you do fall down, plant your poles in the ground-or call for the help you need-and pick yourself back up.
I have no problem with basic filters, like safe search. I hate sleazy pop ups as much as you do, probably more. Ski patrol does mark major hazards. But most other filters fail spectacularly. For example, my parents installed K9 last month. I couldn't take it seriously with that stupid puppy logo. We took it down after realizing it blocked my blog. My offense? I dared to post-gasp-YouTube clips. Go away, children. Report me, adults. I'm corrupting you with this radical new idea that the Internet can contain videos.
In the end, it doesn't matter what kind of protection you set up. Boundaries only help if you stay inside them. Most accidents happen when skiers explore off the path.  The most important boundaries you can ever set up are the ones inside your own head.

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