NSFW

NSFW is a funny concept these days.

You know it as the widely implemented content tag that signals material you may not want to view at work; at its most extreme it denotes outright pornography, but it’s also used to warn you of subjects that might in some other way be “inappropriate”.

So behind that NSFW designation might be gooey, sticky, hardcore photography and close-up HD genitalia midst-of-intercourse. Or it might be dirty stories. Or it might be a completely reasonable and intelligent website promoting compassionate values… that happens to have an artistically rendered nipple in the logo.

It might be a truth-slinging news blog with no qualms about explaining the gritty details or showing the sexually-charged artwork of the controversial event everyone is arguing about. Hell — it might be Wikipedia, displaying a clinical illustration of a sex act. Educate the masses. Combat ignorance. Share information.

And that’s where I get steaming mad at NSFW, because in these terms, it starts to mean… that we’re afraid.

It starts to mean that even though we know there is “NSFW” content that is completely respectable, even though there is a wide range of subjects and images that might be useful for us to consider, that might teach us something obvious or not-so-obvious, that might stretch and exercise our brains, that might positively affect us as thinking human beings — even despite these things, it’s all unacceptable to discussion in a traditional cubificated workplace, and we’d better hide it.

So we kow-tow to the NSFW label and to our faceless managers and corporations and governments… and we wait to check that link at home. If home isn’t a safe place for rational consideration and intelligent exploration, maybe we never check it at all. We know our boss (or spouse, or county judge) wouldn’t understand if it came up on the browser logs later. Even if we’re on break, or other non-work-related content is fair game, and even if we happen to be fully-capable adults with the ability to make these discernments for ourselves. And more, we get uncomfortable if something isn’t tagged properly, if we stumble on it accidentally. We don’t want to get in trouble, after all.

In addition to all of this bullshit, you’ve probably noticed that the word “obscene” has become very political, something no one can really define properly (certainly not from the government’s standpoint). There are all kinds of ways we might get in trouble for thinking about things that aren’t… appropriate. And Christine-O’Donnell-forbid we engage in some kind of safe, harmless, private behavior on our own time — much less discuss it without bias or (heavens!) depict it in a publicly accessible space.

I’m so tired of listening to everyone worry about getting in trouble.

When was the last time you sought out some good old-fashioned trouble? I ask you.

As a result of this huge, ridiculous grey area and the impossibly vague boundaries thereof, NSFW is a label placed disturbingly lightly. Though I don’t work in a cubical and I haven’t had a boss to fear for years, I am still truly offended that most of the NSFW content I’ve seen is considered inappropriate for good people to have at hand. Every instance seems to mean something really dirty about the person in question, even if it has nothing to do with that person’s personality or proclivities — even if the material isn’t, itself, meant to titillate. No wonder we’re all messed up about sex in America. No wonder the abuse of sexual impulses in advertising has such a stranglehold on our pocketbooks. No wonder we grow up feeling repressed and confused and embarrassed about the complex and miraculous machines that are our physical bodies — and no wonder we make so much conflict for ourselves, when the very thoughts in our heads are anathema in polite society.

No wonder politics these days feels more and more like The Battle of the Stupid.

I’m NSFW. You’re NSFW. Our innermost thoughts and feelings are certainly NSFW. More and more, it feels like our ability to reason is NSFW, too. And what else? Creativity, for instance? The asking of questions? Pride in oneself as a unique individual, rather than just an obedient cog in somebody’s massive machine? Outlawing sex is bad enough without outlawing human substance and variety. What the hell does NSFW mean anymore, except as a dated concept to be challenged and dashed against walls?

It is in preparing to dash this tag against those walls — and rediscover this territory that others don’t dare to map (here be sea monsters, indeed) — that I decided I needed a new outlet. Another direction for expansion; a space dedicated to this inquiry.

I am opposed to fear. I am opposed to censorship. I am opposed to the absence of cognitive fire in a dreary, shut-down world. Fear of offense is not a good reason to halt the spread of useful information, stifle education or restrict free thought.

In this new space, we have repurposed NSFW as our torch. We will light the dark alleys of our own minds and see what’s really in there. We will not balk at discussing topics that make others fidget and avert their eyes. We will prod and poke and use our minds the way they were made, unflinchingly — to think. To consider. To understand.

No, dude, I understand. I used to hide my porn, too. But we’re better than that. You’re better than that.

I’m tired of pretending I’m something I’m not. If you feel the same, you can get on the list, too.

This is the plan: I will tell you exactly what’s on my mind, no matter what it is. I will crack the occasional joke. You will probably find out just how pro-exploration, pro-sexuality, and anti-censorship I really am. Some of you will get squicked out and leave. I am okay with that. We can still be friends, yo.

This probably won’t be a no-holds-barred foray into forbidden sexuality. I’m not saying we won’t post the occasional naughty pinup (with Marty in-house, I can’t ever promise that), but there are a lot of issues we don’t currently discuss on the blog because perhaps the timing and the audience aren’t quite right. On this list, I am divesting myself of those concerns. Somebody else can worry about them; me, I’m going to write what needs to be written. The audience will become whatever it becomes. For those of you who do stick around in the end — well, I imagine it will be very nice for us all have found one another!

I have many long-simmered thoughts about change and growth and the world at large that I have not yet shared. Common courtesy and the nature of these particular thoughts demand that I give you reasonable warning:

The inside of my head is NSFW.

I think you’ll find that yours is, too.

Jump on in.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] is the one who originally sent this link to me, insisting that now was the time for my crazy NSFW list experiment. Short, entertaining article. Be careful with your .orgs and .coms, and always check to see who has [...]