I wrote “rarely senselessly vulgar; frequently slightly tacky” early on in my blog’s life, and it’s still usually what I say when I’m asked to provide a blog description. I envisioned it mostly as a content warning, though I also liked the transposition of the syllable structure from the first phrase to the second. I thought it was a clever way to tell you up front that I might say “fuck,” but would try not to do so gratuitously.
Thing is, I don’t say “fuck” much anymore. I’ve sometimes written of the fact that I’ve never tried to be a different person online than I am in real life, and that I found it difficult not to question the motives of those who did. I don’t think it’s that. I think my change from the beginning to now represents an honest evolution in the way I do things, not that I was once pretending and now I’m not (or vice versa). I’d probably still call BoWilliams.com PG-13, but more for thematic reasons than the occasional profanity.
Still, without question, I’ve always written this blog to adults. I have only considered children stumbling upon it in terms of a combination of likelihood that they would do so, and relative severity of what they would find if they did, and have always been “societally” comfortable with what I put out there. Yet now I’m doing a lot of thinking about my own children reading it. (Thanks to a friend for germinating that seed.) It gives me great pause. My boys were 5 and 2 when I started this blog, and I never had a single thought of them reading it. (In October 2006, had I even any thought of this blog existing in 2012? Probably not.)
But it does. And now Nathan is 10. And though he is still tightly supervised online both at home and school, it won’t be long before he’ll have no trouble finding a free whirl at the web here and there. You know, it’s not that I can remember ever writing anything here I’m ashamed of. I just never considered the, say, 12- to 19-year-old version of my own son when writing. I’ve been through thoughts “out loud” here that I wouldn’t mind my adult son reading, but that might frighten or confuse him as an adolescent.
I’m certainly not so vain to imagine that my son can’t wait to get to an unsupervised terminal just so he can wade through Dad’s thoughts for the past several years. But this will be here, and at an idle moment, he’ll think of it. I’m pretty sure I don’t want that, and I’m also pretty sure there’s only one reasonable solution to it.
If you’re my age or close to it, odds are decent an Atari 2600 made a memorable pass through your childhood. Do you remember when you would play Combat or Air-Sea Battle (or a few others), that the scores would blink on and off with maybe 30 seconds remaining as a warning that the game was about to end? That motif has stayed with me. I’ll be in the middle of something—making an omelet, doing the taxes, racing the dark to get the grass cut—and think “oops, the scores just started blinking. Better wrap this thing.”
I think that—for this BoWilliams.com, in its current instantiation—the scores just started blinking.