Sometime around the age of 4, I asked everyone to call me Starbuck. I’m sure I demanded it. The character Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica was cool. He talked cool, flew a cool spaceship, fought cool robots and aliens with his cool friends. I wasn’t cool. I was 4. I must have figured that if I had the cool name of a cool guy, I too would be cool.
One breathtakingly hot summer day, I was running around outside, like kids do. I remember being called in for supper. I was going to head back into the house, really I was, but I figured that the best possible thing I could do at that moment was to take a full lap around the block. The block was large and my legs were short. I’m sure that a 10 minute jaunt around the neighborhood was not what my mom, dad, grandma, or whoever had called me in, had in mind. I had already covered a few feet, so turning back would have been silly, obviously.
When I was about three quarters of the way around the block, some older kids, my aunts friends, saw me and asked what I was doing. They knew who I was and knew that my given name was not what I wanted to be called. I was mid stride over some rough sidewalk when I looked over my shoulder to correct them. One quick stumble, and I went down hard. I can very clearly remember dragging myself back to my feet, holding the torn skin of my knee. I shouted back through tear filled eyes and leaking nose that my name was Starbuck. And Starbuck hobbled the rest of the way back home, with blood running down his leg, still more injured in pride than in body. I felt silly and embarrassed. I went by Owen from then on.
My boys, like all children, have heroes. People other than their mom and me that they can idolize and emulate. Most of their heroes are fictional, like mine were. Several of them are youtube personalities. Adults who play cool games with their cool friends and speak in cool, practiced, presenter voices. They create entertaining videos, cut together with no small amount of skill. Several of them are actually decent role models. People who work hard at being creative. People who haven’t waited to be offered a job, but instead created something that they seem to enjoy doing, using actual, marketable talents like storytelling, public speaking, and video production. Honestly, not terrible skills to foster and promote.
As you would expect, my kids would like to do the same things they see DanTDM and Stampycat do on a near daily basis. They would like to have their own youtube channel, where they post videos that they create of themselves playing games and making stories that they enjoy. I feel that it is my responsibility to get behind anything creative that they would like to do. I have the tools available, and enough personal and professional video production experience to train them to create their own original work. If they wanted to sculpt, there would be no hesitation. We have modelling clay, wood, plastic, cardboard, and all the tools you need to shape those materials. But youtube is on the internet, and that is where I am hesitant.
Once a video is on youtube, for all intents and purposes, it’s there forever. There is a certain amount of precaution that you take when your kids play at the park. It goes without saying that, as a parent, you offer relatively vigilant supervision. You Know where they are, and how much danger you are willing to allow before you step in to protect them. They may fall. They may even hurt themselves. All part of being a kid, and I would never want to take that from them. They get scars, they heal, they get over it. The internet never forgets. The internet is designed to never forget.
When I was 4, I ran around the block and fell. I have a small scar on my knee, but I don’t remember the physical pain. That’s gone. Erased. I do remember being embarrassed, but I’m pretty sure no one else does. Those kids who saw me fall, they probably don’t remember any of it. It’s like it never happened. If a child was to stumble and fall on the internet, what part of that would be forgotten? The internet is designed to never forget. If my boys want be creative, to create videos and practice those skills, I am going to aid them in achieving that in any way that I can. But the internet is not a normal playground, and I will be very, very protective.