This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

They Know What You Want: a rant.

The other day I wanted a synonym for the word stuff, and because my Thesaurus was upstairs and getting it would have involved climbing over two builders, I looked it up on line.

I clicked a likely-looking link, and discovered it took me to a table, published via Pinterest, of useful words for schoolchildren. 

Since then Pinterest has been pushing teaching resources at me.

We're all familiar with this sort of thing - of being monitored by the big tech firms, I mean. It can be quite useful sometimes (for instance, if your first search hasn't quite come up with the thing you want to buy) and pleasingly ridiculous at others (you bought a new car last week, so why not buy another one today??).

The ability of companies to suggest these products is sophisticated really rather marvellous. They can deduce all sorts of stuff about us, even if they get it wrong.

Does it matter?

Molly Russell killed herself, aged fourteen, in 2017. She'd not been obviously depressed or obviously troubled. She had, it turned out, been viewing a lot of self-harming images on line, particularly via Instagram. 

A month after her death, Pinterest sent her a link entitled I can't tell you how many times I've wished I was dead.

Just think how clever the marketing is that you receive.

And see if you can find one single excuse for the tech giants to send that sort of thing to any child. To any person.

I can't.

Word To Use Today: suicide. This word comes from the Latin suī, of oneself, and caedere, to kill.

During the course of researching this post I Googled "Whatsapp suicide" and the drop-down menu suggested I might be looking for "Whatsapp suicide Momo". 

Momo is a game which is said to encourage children to self-harm. The final challenge is to commit suicide.

It's been reported that several of our children have succeeded.

I'm told it's a hoax.

I hope so.

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