Last Saturday, my family and I went swimming at Pebble Lake. We were having a great time and there were a bunch of different people enjoying the sun, fun and water.
Without lifeguards, I was being an ever vigilant father. I watched both my kids as they played in the water. I really felt like a helicopter parent for awhile but I prefer safety over being too overbearing.
I watched as both my son and daughter attempted to remember their swimming lessons from last year. While my daughter hung out in the shallows, my son continued to venture farther and farther away from shore. While it wasn’t a problem as he made his way back each time, it is still a concern.
Later on, they brought tubes into the water and began floating with friends. I noticed my son had one around his waist and was quite a ways out. I looked at him and waved and he waved back. Then I gave him a thumbs up, but he responded with a thumbs down. I immediately threw off my shirt and went into the water after him.
When I got to him, I grabbed the tube he was floating on and brought him closer to shore. We talked about not going out so far with the tubes and if he was in any real danger. While he wasn’t in any danger, he was stuck. His arms were too short to go over the tube and swim back in. He was just floating in the same spot.
I know what he was thinking. “I don’t want to lose the tube, because it will float farther out.” That is why I decided to intervene and get him back to shore. Of course, he could have left the tube and swam in but he didn’t want to lose something that we owned.
This got me to thinking about a few ideas and things my son would like to do. After staying at home during the pandemic, he has fallen into watching several YouTube video game personalities. He enjoys the aspect of acting and also likes playing video games — win, win, am I right?
He has continued to model out what his YouTube channel will be and is currently saving up his allowance to get a computer (he actually earns his weekly allowance by doing a bevy of different things). My son will ask my wife and I several questions about what he can do for his show, how to monetize the platform, about merchandising and a bunch of other business related items (apparently I am going to be working full time for him in a few years).
While I am very supportive in what my children want to do or are interested in (as long as they continue to do well in school and are respectful), I am worried about the venture. While my son enjoys the idea of entertaining people, I don’t think he understands the evil that lies in the weeds of the internet. Cruelty is a click away and commenters are merciless online. He may be making his show for people to enjoy, there are those that enjoy hurting people emotionally.
Although he is not very old, he is very capable of being an online personality right now. He never stops talking (a positive and a negative at times), he is animated and his video game journey would be interesting. There are kids younger than him online making an exorbitant amount of cash.
But I am not concerned about how much “merch” he could sell or how many likes, shares and subscribes he gets. I, like most parents, want him to be happy. I don’t want him to get down because some troll on the internet has nothing better to do but make fun of other people’s work.
As parents, the idea of allowing your children to have an online personality is frightening. I can’t rip my shirt off and go pull him away from the sharks online. Even grown adults are deactivating accounts on multiple social media platforms because of harassment they receive from commenters.
My wife and I are trying to prepare him for what lies out in the world wide web. We continue to talk and explain to him about what he will encounter when he makes his first public video. Will people like it? Maybe. Will there be some nasty comments? Potentially.
It takes thick skin to put yourself out there for the world to see. I am just trying to get him prepared for all the successes and failures that come with being front and center in life. Not every at-bat will be a hit, but there will always be another way to find success.
Happy Fourth of July
I hope everyone has a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend. I know that our country seems very divided at the moment but I believe that we are all working toward what the Founding Fathers were looking to establish — a great nation.
So, enjoy the freedoms that are given to you by living in the United States. Spend time with your family, hang out with friends, enjoy a cookout. We will see you back here next week.
Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Daily Journal.