Little swirls and eddies?

Hi folks,

Please help me get to grips with the expression leave little swirls and eddies in their wake. Below you’ll find the context I found the phrase in. I think it means that Google sometimes does little things that are just a bit evil. But is the phrase to leave little swirls and eddies in the wake a commonly used one?

Thanks in advance.

Here is the text:

It is a constant worry because although Google would not intentionally ban someone without reason, it seems that if they’re in doubt they ban first and reconsider if the ban is protested.

So while they are not actually “doing” evil, they occasionally leave little swirls and eddies of evil in their wake. I find that bothersome, especially since my account probably wouldn’t warrant their answering my phone call, they would make me wait (in angst) for an interminable email.

The wake of a ship or a boat is the waves it leaves behind. Google’s motto is, “Do no evil.” The author is metaphorically comparing Google to a boat. While the captain of the boat has good intentions, the boat leaves rough water behind it that the captain may not notice, because he is looking forward. Swirls and eddies are both circular currents of water. The author is saying that, while Google doesn’t try to churn up evil, it nonetheless leaves little waves of evil behind it when it carries out its policies.

Hello Jamie (K), thank you very much for your interesting explanation. Now the sentence makes more sense to me. Could you please also tell me why the waves are called eddies? I understand swirls - that makes sense but why eddies, isn’t that a male name?
Cheers, Nicole

Hi Nicole,

The word eddy is also a small circular movement of water like a small whirlpool. This is not to be confused with Eddie the abbreviation of Edward. Charles Dickens uses it - circling eddies of fog - when he describes the fog in London in his novel Bleak House. You often get pairs of words meaning the same as in: look in every nook and cranny (both mean small corners) suffer the trials and tribulations of life (both mean hardships) or again pain and suffering.