Did you mean that, Google?

Guess what you get when you search for "bad fathering"?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published October 23, 2009 8:24PM (EDT)

Of the many things we love about Google, certainly the gentle, non-judgmental way it gives us an out on our fuzzy thinking and bad spelling is right up there. So we’re going to do this in Google-ese. Earlier today we did a search for “bad fathering” and got a “Did you mean: bad mothering?” You also get a similar suggestion if you Google “poor fathering.” In fact, the very first thing at the top of the page when you search for "poor fathering" is "Mommie Dearest (poor mothering ability)". The first two true results for "bad fathering," meanwhile, are for a band called Bad Fathers and "First time father deserves a bash."

Really, Google, did you mean that?

We know it’s nothing personal; it’s just an algorithm based on the most common queries. And while we appreciate your patience when we suck at spelling “sacerdotal” and don't quite know whether that song goes “whoo hoo” or “woo hoo,” trust us that when we’re looking for faulty fathering, it’s not dear old mom we seek. Who knew you were so Freudian?

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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