Stripper Names and Everyday Poisons

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My 17-year old daughter shouted to me from the next room: “What’s a good stripper name?” After a brief moment of contemplating why she might need to know this information and why she was asking me to help her, I opened my IPad and typed “best stripper names” into Google search.

She was writing a play for school and a comedic moment turned on the use of a name that could belong to a stripper but also could be considered a reasonable name for a newborn child. At least that’s what she said was the reason for the request.

I called out “Crystal? Autumn? Bambi? Ginger? Jade? Dallas?” No response. I brought the IPad to her and opened another site as I placed it beside her. There were name choices on this site too, but I found it hard to read them since the page was covered with images of naked breasts the size of my head and some far too close up pictures of other parts of the female anatomy. The body parts were attached to women with bee-stung glossy lips, fake eyelashes thick with mascara and cascading hair extensions. A few of these “lovely” women were gyrating on the screen.

“Wow, Mom. I only asked for the names. That’s pretty disgusting.”

Agreed, but unlike my daughter, I wasn’t in the least bit shocked. As a writer of fiction, I am a serial Googler of sometimes unsavory words and phrases. “Methods of Torture.” “Raping and Pillaging.” “Dog sex” “How do you make poison with household products?” These search names often lead me to thoroughly disgusting web pages, often worse than the one I brought to my daughter. Sometimes the pages are more disturbing than disgusting. Sometimes the words cause me to turn away, feeling sick to my stomach and deeply troubled by the way some minds work.

But often I find, amidst the junk Google spits out, the information that helps me to write somewhat knowledgeably about something I previously knew nothing about.

Not too long ago, a screenwriter I know, who specializes in the horror genre, said that he’d be seriously worried if the authorities ever got ahold of his Google history. Even I can see I’d look like a lunatic, he said. The details of his online research, like that of mine and many other writers and random Googlers, could be misconstrued.

I have to say with the recent revelations regarding National Security Agency surveillance, I can’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable, not just about my Google history but about all the ways I use electronic communications: social media, email, texting, phone calls and my blog.

I read through a recently released study by the literary and human rights organization, PEN, which details several things the NSA has done/is doing that directly impacts U.S. residents. According to this study, the NSA has collected millions of phone records of Verizon, Sprint and AT & T subscribers, has the ability to search through “vast databases containing emails, online chats, and the browsing histories of millions of individuals” with no prior authorization, and among other things which I’m not mentioning here but you can read in the report, the NSA has built a system, “in conjunction with telecommunications companies, that can reach deep into the U.S. Internet backbone and cover 75% of traffic in the country, including not only metadata but the content of online communications.”

Kind of makes me feel like I’m stuck in a George Orwell book. I don’t like being stuck in a George Orwell book. But I also don’t like the idea that I should rein in my communications because the government is watching us a little too closely.

A few weeks ago, I posted this on Twitter: “I bake cookies. My daughter makes mini pumpkin cheesecakes with salted caramel topping,” and within minutes received an invitation to join the Parent’s Club elite kid protection network, something that had happened to another friend of mine only a few weeks earlier. I commented to her that I thought it was pretty creepy the way we are being watched but that I wasn’t going to crawl back in my hole because of it. She said that she thought/hoped the mass of data floating around provides a certain cushion for us, privacy-wise.

I think she is right about the cushion. I hope she is right. Meanwhile, I’m going about my business, doing what I’ve always done. Still it makes me feel queasy, this idea that things that I do that I don’t care for others to look at too closely may be seen by not just people I know but those whom I don’t know. I’m less worried about being considered a threat based on my Google history than I am troubled by Big Brother thinking it has the right to look over my shoulders (with or without my knowledge.)

Are others feeling wary about all the privacy issues that have come to light recently? Have you been wary all along about privacy issues as you or your children joined the world of social media, etc.? Will you change what you do as a result of the confirmation of what the NSA has been up to? I’d love to hear what you have to say; I guess I can be thankful just this one time that my blog readership rarely tops 200 or so readers. What security agency would look twice at something read by so few?

Sara

Sara

I write about daily life, arts & culture, food, books, nature, animals, parenting, relationships, self-discovery, & more.

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15 thoughts on “Stripper Names and Everyday Poisons

  1. Good and thought-provoking, Sara. Also, maybe your daughter thought you had heard more stripper names than most, because you are from the town that had the infamous “Block.” But that was pretty much before your time, wasn’t it? I remember that my commuter bus used to drive down Baltimore Street and I could see the marquees of the clubs on The Block. Maybe she should have asked me…

  2. Sara
    Once more you have been able to start off the work day wiith a big smile on my face. Some other classic stripper names you didn’t mention are from the auto industry; Porsche, Lexus, Ferrari just to name a few. Secondly, depending upon an individuals interests likes desires anyone’s Google history may shed some light on what makes them tick so to speak. Do I agree with this type of surveillance..No. But I also think it helps as far as the big picture in drilling down and maybe asking a few more questions. Unfortunately I’m sure this has been going on for longer than we knew or cared to know. Look forward to reading some others comments. BTW, Happy Thanksgivukkah!

    1. Glad I could bring a smile to your face. I think you’re right that this has been going on for longer than we know. I struggle with whether it is ok to invade our privacy in the name of protection, even if it helps with collecting information that is valuable. Happy Thankgivukkah to you too!

  3. Thanks for an interesting post, Sara!

    I used to belong to a Mystery Writers organization and we were setting up a meeting at a gun range to have a demo. One of the members, who was involved with the setup, worked for a National Security organization – so she advised us to edit our emails. Guns became ducks. And gun range became duck pond. Maybe we were overly paranoid but we had fun getting our ducks in a row.

    Another time, I phoned an insurance agency to see what the procedure was for getting a totalled car out of the ditch – since my heroine had this problem. Even though I told him it was for research, the agent I spoke to said he would have to record the call.

    It’s interesting where research leads us!

    1. That’s fascinating that somebody in the security industry had you edit your emails. Also kind of humorous the way that it was done.

  4. It’s surprising how quickly those profiled ads show up. But why do I get ads for Christian Debt Services? Hair restoration products, and dating services? And, for a better question, was your blog taken over by Levitra?? (Or what that a tease?) The next time you’re in need of a stripper name, call me. First name = first pet, Last name = first street. Oh, wait – that’s supposed to be for your hooker name….

    1. So nice of you to step up to the plate next time we have a family need for stripper names. Maybe if I change the content of my blog posts, I can get Viagra, Levitra, etc. to pay to advertise with me. Hmmmm. Shouldn’t be too hard to come up with an idea. Yes, Karen, I intentionally said “hard” and “come” because I’m just that kind of girl. 😉

  5. I would be careful about the words you use in searches. There are computer algorithms that pick up on certain text strings, and the authorities do notice. When I wanted to research what goes into making a basic bomb for a story I was plotting, I called a police officer friend. I told him (half jokingly) that I thought I should have a phone conversation with him instead of googling the topic, because I didn’t want the FBI showing up at my door. He was totally serious when he said “that could very well happen” if I googled bomb making. I work in the software industry and have worked on security software, which is why I was a little paranoid to begin with. That police officer convinced me that I wasn’t being paranoid. At all.

    1. I know it’s true but find that so disturbing. I even get why it is done but the whole land of the free thing gets confused by the authorities policing us in this way. I haven’t looked into bomb making yet so I think I’m safe. For now.

  6. Like Elizabeth, I’m really cautious about what I google… not so much because I think the authorities will show up, but because I just don’t want to see such stuff!

    I think the issue with all the data being collected only becomes an issue when ‘the autorities’ decide to investigate you for whatever reason. I watch all these cop shows and think how much they’d be able to find on me… But since I don’t intend to do anything naughty, they’d only be investigating me because I’d been murdered or something, so all the information might in fact be useful. 😉

    The issue of potential stalkers does cross my mind on occasion, so I’m relatively careful not to be too explicit about my physical movements in public forums.

So what do you think?