Watch your back: Porn is out to get us!

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina—now campaigning to be the GOP’s presidential candidate—said a while back that she could improve the U.S. economy by cutting federal workers’ pay because they’re “watching porn all day long.”

My first reaction was, “Seriously?” But evidently I’d completely missed the news about a May 2014 inspector general’s report on federal employees watching Internet pornography at work (guess I was too busy actually working).

EPA workers
watch Internet porn for hours.
Clean up your act, guys.

Well, this could explain the long wait times when you call certain government agencies. Or maybe why the IRS is performing fewer audits, or the FDA is conducting fewer food inspections. It’s not that they’re short-staffed and hard-pressed to take care of the citizens who pay their salaries. They’re simply diverted by porn and taking care of their own, um, business.

But fair-minded, non-judgmental person that I am, I thought: it might not be their fault. These federal workers may have been entrapped in a weak moment by the insidious porn industry, inadvertently sucked into a titillating vortex of sleaze.

The reason I thought this is because some people I know (me included) have narrowly escaped porn’s clutches. The darn stuff is ubiquitous, and it sneaks up on you, rearing its kinky head when you least expect it.

For example, last year a friend’s husband showed up for a CPR class at a local Red Cross facility only to discover that the class had been cancelled and the building locked up tight. A note posted on the door directed wannabe attendees to call a certain number for information about rescheduling their class.

So my friend’s husband dutifully called the number and—forsooth—it was a phone sex service! I’m sure the Red Cross CPR folks didn’t deliberately direct people to call for phone sex (although I suppose that is one way to get one’s heart rate up, among other things), and whoever put the wrong phone number on the note was surely red-faced when the mistake was discovered. But see how easy it is to get this stuff shoved down your throat (or in your ear, to be more precise)?

Another case in point: my husband needed a tuxedo a few years ago for a black-tie wedding we were invited to. Rather than rent one, he decided to buy one online (optimistically thinking he might have other opportunities to wear it because our life in rural Maine is so glamorous). So he found a website that offered reasonably priced suits and made the purchasing process really easy.

Then, within a week or so of buying the tux, he started getting bombarded with porn-related emails—easily a dozen a day over several weeks. Since he’s not in the habit of frequenting Internet porn sites (trust me, I know this), and the tuxedo site was the only out-of-the-ordinary URL he’d visited recently, we figured that the site was selling customers’ email addresses to porn purveyors. Or it was doing some sort of cookie profiling that assumed tuxedo buyers were into porn. What marketing genius came up with that algorithm?

Sometimes, all it takes is a missing letter in a URL to deliver you to porn’s door. In the early days of Craig’s List (around 2002 or 2003), I mistakenly typed “craiglist.com” into my browser and it took me to a porn site. The real Craig’s List obviously has been able to buy that domain name because if you enter it today, it takes you to the legitimate site. Which, BTW, has its own discussion group for “Kink.” Just sayin’.

More recently, I wanted to publicly thank a fellow blogger on Facebook for adding Boomer Haiku to her website’s blogroll. I crafted a short write-up, added what I thought was a link to her website and hit “Post.” I clicked on the link to make sure it worked and up popped a page with list of porn websites. Ack! I quickly deleted the post and rechecked the web address I’d entered—turns out, I’d omitted one letter of her URL. Lesson learned: it pays to be anal (you should pardon the expression) about checking links.

Which brings me back to the apparently porn-addled federal workers. Given how easy it is to be exposed to porn when you’re not even looking for it, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they, too, were once innocently surfing the Web, entered a wrong URL, and porn’s insidious tentacles just reached out and grabbed them. And for whatever reason (insert conjecture here), they were powerless to resist—unlike straight-laced hubs, me and my girlfriend’s husband.

But no, I was soon disabused of that notion. The inspector general’s report says they deliberately watched porn—some of them for up to six hours a day—because they were bored. Jeez, call me crazy, but why don’t they just do their frickin’ jobs? And get titillated on their own time?

As a result of these guys’ proclivities (and all indications are that it was guys doing the porn thing), a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina introduced a law—the Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act—that would prohibit federal employees from accessing pornographic or explicit material on government computers and devices. It passed through the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in late March.

Which begs the question: it takes an act of Congress to keep federal employees from whacking off during work hours?

Decades ago, when the Internet was still just a gleam in Al Gore’s eye, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen just how pervasive porn would become. Growing up, the underwear ads in the Sears & Roebuck catalog were about the most salacious images anyone was exposed to.

Today, naughty bits seem to be everywhere you look—even if you’re not looking. Fortunately, for those of us not so inclined, there are spam filters and a delete button.

As for the federal workers, well, all I can say is: “Watch out…Carly’s coming for you.”

What about you—any funny and/or embarrassing porn exposure experiences you’re willing to share?

 

 

 

Roxanne Jones

About Roxanne Jones

By day, Roxanne Jones is an award-winning freelance copywriter specializing in health and medicine. She launched Boomer Haiku, a humorous blog about life as a baby boomer, in 2015, and a Boomer Haiku greeting card line in 2016 (available at 6 Maine stores; visit www.boomerhaiku.com/shop/ to learn more). Born and raised in Brunswick, she left Maine after high school (Class of 1971) and, after living in Massachusetts and California, came screaming back to her home state in 2006. She enjoys chardonnay, laughing at the foibles and frustrations of getting older, and contemplates plastic surgery to get rid of the wattle on her neck.