The Great F-bomb Debate: To Swear or Not to Swear Online?

  • May 24, 2012 by Corbett Barr
  • 59 Comments

Let’s talk about four-letter words today.

If you write blog posts or shoot videos or produce any kind of content online, eventually you’ll have to decide whether or not dropping the occasional (or frequent) F-bomb is OK.

There’s a lot to think about before you decide what’s right for you.

Watch the brief video below for my take on the great f-bomb debate, then share your thoughts in the comments below.


(if you don’t see the video, click here to watch)

Oh, and if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, join the party :)

Now I’d love to hear what you think.

Leave a comment below and tell me why you swear online, or why you don’t.

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Otiti May 24, 2012 at 6:30 am

The great debate indeed. Although I rarely swear in my content because it’s all about the soul and being good to yourself and dancing in all that positive energy, I have been known to cuss once or twice because sometimes, there’s just no other way to say it.

If I’m commenting on a post with colourful language or written by someone I KNOW is comfortable with that, I won’t hesitate to gust “wow, that just rocked the fuck out!” because I do talk like that in my offline life as well.

I guess for me it all boils down to how I talk and think offline: I don’t swear often, but I make it memorable when I do. :) And like you said, conservative types don’t have to determine what we put in our content; it’s all about WHY we use it in the first place.

Sean Davis May 24, 2012 at 6:34 am

I pretty much swear online when I want to. I won’t lie, I’ve been on the fence about it for the last few months after a respected friend of mine (also active in the internet entrepreneurship) made a status on Facebook about how people couldn’t make a point without swearing. I was embarrassed a little bit. But eventually, I said fuck it.

Basically, I know how well I can write or speak. So, if I decide to swear, it’s because I want to… not because I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

Typically, I avoid “fuck” or “shit” in my writing because it’s simply not my writing style. However, I have nothing against saying it. I say “damn” or “ass” quite often, though.

Either way, none of us have an obligation to anyone else… not in that sense, at least. So, I’m going to say whatever the hell I want to say. There are enough people out there who will dig it. For the ones who don’t, there are enough bloggers out there that will suit their needs much better!

Thanks for bringing this up.

Liz May 24, 2012 at 6:35 am

Right on.

Deonne Kahler May 24, 2012 at 8:01 am

Sean,

I’m with you (and Corbett, natch). I’m a curser *and* a writer, and like you I know when I’m being lazy by using a curse word, and when it’s simply the best word choice.

What’s interesting is I curse far less on my main blog than I do on my other (dormant) blog, which was more about storytelling. And not only did I curse, I had an entire post category called “inappropriateness.” I was definitely looser over there, and had a pretty good readership (no surprise, I suppose).

Hm. I think I need to get that other blog out of retirement! Ha.

Deonne

Liz May 24, 2012 at 6:34 am

I absolutely do swear online when I feel that whichever word I have chosen will accept my point or fill a glaring hole in a story.
Sometimes it’s just not good enough to say ‘crikey’. I find that when you are righting and you are in the zone and you’ve just started to type that word then you should go right ahead and keep on typing! That hesitation you feel is not your own, it’s someone else’s.
It’s not real life to talk like you’re always at a tea party. We are NOT corporate America. That means that those rules of propriety do not apply to us.
My absolute favorite Corbett Barr post is “Write Epic Shit”. If he had named it “Write Epic Posts” I wouldn’t be nearly as interested in it.
With that said, people who swear in every sentence to get attention are annoying. No swearing for swearing’s sake. Do it when it adds value. There are plenty of instances when it does.

(Notice I did not swear in this comment because there was nowhere that it would have added value. Maybe next time.)

Denise May 24, 2012 at 6:55 am

Corbett, you really addressed this topic perfectly! I said this to another blogger awhile back – I rarely curse online, but I rarely curse in person either – so to me, the point is to be who you are on or offline, whoever that person is! You made a great point about HBO and people gladly pay for the premium.

And though I don’t really curse, I don’t have any problem seeing lots of value in a blog post that does have cursing if it’s written well, of course, just like any other well written article without cursing.

Great video! off to share..

Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca May 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

“Another blogger” a while back, Denise? Really? Really?

I’m thinking Denise is referring to our conversation here: http://ryzeonline.com/swear-to-offend-you

Which goes over not only how I’m “okay” with swearing, but how I LEVERAGE it to attract better, more thrilling clients for myself.

For me, swearing as brand filter = awesome.

Christina May 24, 2012 at 7:08 am

Hi Corbett,

Awesome topic! Well, since my web site is http://www.fbombmoms.com, I think it’s clear: I don’t have a problem with swearing-they are only words, and the more negative power given to them, out of fear or shoulds, takes away your own power. You aren’t “bad” until you believe someone who says you suck, and the words aren’t “bad” until someone convinces you they are, too. FBombMoms is a colorful way to support women who are F-ing tradition, raising amazing kids on their own and Bootstrapping their Bliss. Swear words break tradition, too.
To get our message across in a song, we wrote “F This I’m Going for Bliss” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lgivJezv7g&feature=youtube_gdata_player ). I wanted to use the F word, but stay “G” rated giving even kids the chance to acknowledge the “rebellious” reality of their lives without risking soap in the mouth for enjoying expressing how they feel. The three munchkins in the video all loved screaming, “F This!”
I think the desire to vent in a “naughty” way is normal, and is a healthy expression for everyone who gives themselves permission to do so.

Doug May 24, 2012 at 7:14 am

My first drafts usually have quite a few swear words (or non-applicable Big Lebowski references which usually contain swear words as well), but as I edit, I end up cutting most of them. Somewhere in the back of my head I can always hear my mom’s voice asking if that is necessary.

I enjoy most blogs with some colorful language as long as it doesn’t feel forced.

Christian Marie May 24, 2012 at 7:16 am

Hi Corbett,

I think the debate about swearing or not online is really part of the story telling aspect of how we present ourselves. To really connect with people, you have to be willing to show who you are.

Like Denise, I don’t really curse unless I am really angry. I am not opposed to others cursing at all, as long as it matches their personality or aligns with their message. As with HBO, if it’s a good program, you are focusing on the content not the individual swear words.

Great post!

Chris Nadeau May 24, 2012 at 7:17 am

It’s all about being authentic. Keep it real and remember, what other people think, well, it’s none of our business :-)

When we try to please everyone and in doing so, it takes us outside of who we are, that most often leads to trouble.

Great post Corbett!

Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca May 24, 2012 at 11:46 am

Seconded, Chris :)

The thing is, many people don’t know how to “keep it real”, which is why I created Ryze’s How To ‘Be Real’ Blueprint.

It’s really tough to make the small decisions like “do I swear or not”, when you don’t know what you stand for, what your priorities are, who you most enjoy reaching, what value + gifts you bring to the world, etc.

I find people remain confused, wondering “should I swear” without taking care of the root, foundational stuff first.

But then… they give me a job :D

Aaron May 24, 2012 at 7:18 am

Use it – someone might get offended and leave.

Don’t use it – no one knows the better. Good content isn’t dependent on an occasional F-bomb.

I’ve never seen Seth Godin use an F-bomb and he seems to get across his point just fine.

And perhaps a better question is one of integrety. Would you use the language you use on your blog in front of your kids? Your mom?

I guess too often to me it seems contrived and distracting and a bit of an act.

I want to reach as many people as possible and I’d rather not drive away that one “sneezer” because of one word.

Brad West May 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I second that, Aaron. No one is going to get upset because you’re not profane.

Joseph Ratliff May 24, 2012 at 7:22 am

IMO…

If it’s true to your voice… and you want to express your voice online… swear away.

If it’s not a natural thing… don’t do it because it might seem “cool.” It isn’t when it’s not natural.

Brock May 24, 2012 at 7:34 am

Hey Corbett,

I have thought about this a lot. I generally try not to swear, and I have many close friends and family who are very against it for religious reasons. I get along just fine without swearing, but I personally don’t think it deducts value from the content when people do, in fact, I think sometimes it helps to pack a punch. Sometimes if you want to pack that same punch without swearing, it requires excellent writing skills.

I agree with you that you should simply make up your mind and do it, if you want to be G-rated that’s just fine, and if you want to be R-rated that’s just fine too. Good advice, I’ll probably try to stick to G-rated, but I don’t have any problem with people going either way!

-Brock

Sergio Felix May 24, 2012 at 8:09 am

Hey Corbett,

I normally keep it clean online but not because I want to come across as a non curser… But because I’m slowly including more videos in my blog and if you have a voice, you need to stay true to it whether is via written article or video.

If I say “FUCK YEAH!” it comes across kind of natural because it’s more of an expression and not really offending (just like you pronounced it on this video)

But if all of a sudden you are swearing on video (maybe complaining about something) I think it can turn out to be a really bad experience in just a few seconds for the visitor.

Now as for everyday life and real life scenarios…

We see swearing almost in every single movie and for someone like me who was never been to the USA before (until a few years ago) I thought everyone talked like that in the streets.

Turns out, they don’t.

Actually if I said “fuck this” or “fuck yeah” or whichever f-bomb flavor you think of, heads and eyeballs turned immediately my way and it really didn’t take much more for me to understand you just don’t go around on your merry way dropping f-Bombs as you please.

Now for the online life…

There are clever people that do use swearing to make a point come across but isn’t it telling you something that they can write “FUCK” without any problems and according to them, “nobody gives a shit if you swear online anyway” but they never actually pronounce those words when they are speaking on video?

Hmmmm.

They WRITE them while they are on video, which is something I happen to enjoy because it keeps you watching the video with more attention so you don’t miss any of the “clever pointers” but it still comes out non-offensive like that.

That’s the POSITIVE side of the online swearing part but this is the thing that I just can’t fucking stand these days:

I am finding more and more blogs that not only swear a LOT but the writers are even building their content around swearing.

I am even starting to read H2 headlines that go like “FUCK. SHIT. CRAP. PISS. BOING.” I mean… one time, it can be funny.

It can even drag attention, get you more opened e-mail, better CTR’s and lots of “YOU FUCKING ROCK DUDE” kind of comments but if you do that all the fucking time, then where’s the contrasting color at?

How can I tell what is going to be an awesome article or a kick in the balls or a punch in the face or whatever, if all your damn content is written like a fucking trucker or a sailor? (I couldn’t avoid laughing at that expression on the video btw)

To me, all those new-clever-trendy-modern-urban-whatever-the-fuck kind of blogs qualify as a “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” kind of places. Meaning I’ll never come back.

I can digest a kick in the nuts, swear language, even explicit graphics (PORN for the non-creative mind) but we as readers, I think we can perceive when someone’s pretending to be someone they’re not from miles away.

That’s (for me) the real turn off.

Just to wrap this up, I agree there’s no right or wrong answer for this, if it’s the REAL you… then GAME ON.

Sergio

Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca May 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

Sergio! Very insightful, very in depth, and very interesting comment!

Your point about CTRs and opens and attention and contrast is my fave part :)

For me, I’ve always wanted my verbal + written expression to mirror and reflect my passion and authenticity.

So then I swear when I’m really passionate, making a joke, etc. but not just for CTRs.

That way the contrast and balance remains natural for me

Food for thought :)

P.S. It’s funny you mention porn at the end, but I wrote a post called 7 Ideas On The Beauty Of Porn a couple weeks ago that made some waves. Swearing + porn FTW!

Alexandre B May 24, 2012 at 8:12 am

Hi Corbett,

I usually don’t swear online, but I think I will in my upcoming blog. One or two F-words or “putain” in french has never killed anyone, don’t you think ?
I think that swearing a bit can show that you’re a real person, but it’s not obligatory, there are other ways to do it.

Have a great day
Alexandre

Rebecca May 24, 2012 at 9:20 am

Great topic! I see so many people struggle with trying to sound “professional” online, when in real life they swear lie sailors and have somewhat twisted senses of humor.

I tend to swear on my site just because I tend to swear in real life (though I’m not super proud of it and have been trying to tone down the f-bombs that sometimes slip out)

I couldn’t care less if a blogger swears or not. What I DO care about is how real they sound. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone is writing in a voice that is authentic for them, and those are always the best blogs to read

Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca May 24, 2012 at 11:51 am

Rebecca! Excellent comment about ‘two-facers’ — I feel for them, they’re usually just confused.

I think this is because many people are confused on whether blogging is a ‘business’ or ‘something to be educated on’

or is it ‘self-expression’, ‘performance art’, and a way to ‘reach people’.

or both?

Depending on how you look at it, will have you conducting yourself differently.

Personally, I know how I roll, and it shows in my blog + brand :)

Jenny Foss June 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Totally agree with Rebecca. Authenticity is really the most important thing – It’s torture when I read something and I can tell the person is trying to be expletively-colorful (I just made that term up) with the hopes people will accept him or her. It just comes off as awkward and sad.

Now, if you’re someone like, say, Ashley Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project? I’d probably die of boredom if she suddenly scrubbed her posts of expletives. Because to me? I can HEAR Ash talking like that in real life.

I personally am somewhere in the middle, I think. Sometimes, a well placed expletive is really just the best way to get my point across. And in that instance? I roll with it.

John Muldoon May 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

For me, it comes down to authenticity. I swear (sort of a lot) in real life, and so I swear in my writing. Authenticity and radical honesty are things I’m always trying to move toward, in my life and in my writing.

Authenticity works from a creative perspective because faking it is too hard for me. It also works from a branding perspective because people like the real me. So, why hide it?

When I’ve tried to censor myself in the past, friends have read my posts and asked, “Who wrote that?” because it didn’t sound like the real me.

If you want to build a genuine connection with people, shouldn’t you be as real as possible?

I think some people get it wrong by swearing too much, not because it’s offensive, but because it’s easy to spot when someone is just swearing gratuitously for effect. Faking it that way is just as bad.

Charles Green May 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

I often swear as part of normal conversation, including videos and podcasts, but almost never do when I write. All I can guess is that I haven’t successfully unlearned the conservative nature of most school reports.

John May 24, 2012 at 9:22 am

I will occasionally swear online, and I do swear a good amount in real life. Most of my swearing comes from anger, and I am trying to leave anger behind. On my site, almost all of my material is positive, so it would be forced in that instance. If a “shit” or “fuck” or “hell” lands on my page when I’m writing, it’s meant to be there and it stays.

Sharyn Dimmick May 24, 2012 at 9:26 am

I compromise. I partially spell curse words and bleep them out with asterisks. Everyone knows what sh*t means, right? The message is that I sometimes swear (perhaps you do, too), but I am protective of your delicate ears on my blog. It works for David Lebovitz, who was recently seen to say “Holy Sh*t!” and it works for me.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman May 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

If it’s a word you usually use, then on a blog/website, I think people should use it. Part of why people come to your site is for your specific personality, right? But of course if you’re intention is to make as many people as possible happy with you and your opinions and come back to your site a lot, maybe not. Like politicians, you should try to avoid any “bad” language. ? Depends what you’re intent is I guess.

Jeremy Branham May 24, 2012 at 10:10 am

No, I don’t typically curse online. For me, it’s not the way I talk in my every day life. Sure, I let words fly in my head at times and one will come out of mouth occasionally. However, I want to find other ways to communicate.

The purpose of my blog is to tell stories and inspire people to travel. This means painting a real life picture of the world. However, I don’t want to do that with cursing. Have I used an occasional word? Yes but most often in a quote or in some passionate prose, not in my narrative or description of what I am seeing, doing, or explaining.

With that said, I’ve read blogs where people do curse. I don’t have a problem with 4 letter words if they fit. However, using a 4 letter word out of nowhere or in a sentence that really doesn’t need it disappoints me. It’s not the word itself – it’s the poor choice of word that is used more for shock value than it is to make a point or emphasis in the context of the writing.

While I don’t use it, cursing can be used to connect with people emotionally or touch upon a passionate subject. However, random curse words used out of context or for shock value is just poor writing. Using curse words the right way in the right context can be powerful, even if I don’t encourage it or use them in my own writing.

Karol Gajda May 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

I fucking hate when people swear.

Norcross May 24, 2012 at 11:19 am

I was gonna start with some swearing to prove my point, but decided against it.

Ahh, who the hell am I kidding. Fuck it.

I’ve seen this debate happen a few times, framed differently, but the end point remains the same. Some people will get offended. Some won’t. I tend to swear more than many people, but I have since day 1 and I don’t see a need to filter. I haven’t seen it affect my ability to foster good relationships with people (both online and off) and it hasn’t made a difference in my work.

I’ve never seen the value in having a personal filter like that. It almost seems forced when someone you know WANTS to swear, but doesn’t.

Karol Gajda May 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

“It almost seems forced when someone you know WANTS to swear, but doesn’t.” This. A f&*! is much less effective than nothing at all. Nothing is also more effective than fricken. Or freakin. (speaking of those, are we 8 years old?) Or whatever replacement people use. It makes writing very weak. Don’t swear, that’s cool. But don’t swear if you’re not gonna swear. F— is a cop out. Wishy washy is not an effective way to be.

Katie May 24, 2012 at 11:19 am

Great video Corbett – I absolutely concur about not letting a few granny panties in a bunch prevent you from swearing if you want to. Playing it safe to attract the biggest crowd means you don’t really have a target market, or you’re too scared to offend people that might be readers. Like you said, the people who lean in and get to know the real me – that’s all I care about.

Will Peach May 24, 2012 at 11:26 am

It’s about consistency. So many clean bloggers think they are suddenly being edgy when they use a swear-word. That’s why it sounds so awkward.

If you establish your tone early on and you swear from early on, then isn’t really a dilemma. For your audience Corbett, this is a debate. The rest of us don’t give a shit.

Prime example of consistency and swearing to good effect: Mars Dorian.

Jeremy or IHeartTravel May 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

For a while I was on the fence about this topic. In my personal life I do use “colorful” language. However when I began to write on my blog, it started to take on a life of its own.

People began to get inspired from what I was writing (this was never my intention, but merely a showcasing of who I truly am)

As this became the case I didn’t know if I should keep the language light, and good natured. The more and more I began to think about it, I began to realize that the people who read my stuff, accept me as I am, and as I write.

I would rather be true to myself and to my followers, and be myself. So now I swear on my blog when need be. I don’t do it for shock value or anything of the sort.

However if I need to express something, and I feel it necessary to swear

Fuck it, I will swear : )

Jeremy May 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm

If you don’t swear when you write occasionally, you are. 1. Weird. or 2. Evangelist (weird too)

Wolf Rimbaud May 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

What are we? Children? An expletive, like any other word, should be used if it’s the best word to get the point across, period. To get all in a quandary over whether to use it because someone might be offended is just pc bollocks. If you worry about it, get offline and stay offline.

Eden Rudin May 24, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Great topic Corbett. I don’t find myself in that pickle often but when I do I usually find other words that get the point across that aren’t so blatantly curse words and even then I seem to hesitate in using them, but I don’t swear much in real life either so I think I just follow suit online.
I may use words like jerk, butthead, pissed off, ticked…etc and I think my audience an figure out what I am referring to.
Have an awesome day!

Alden May 25, 2012 at 1:45 am

I fucking do it all the time.

But after 8 months of blogging, I learnt to cut it down.

That’s not to say I am “selling out” or anything. I’ve come to find that, despite the whole “be yourself” thing, swearing does automatically shut doors for yourself. Some readers just can’t take it.

The reason why I cut it down was because I was using swear words to stand out, instead of my content itself.

Leah McClellan May 25, 2012 at 10:25 am

Well put, Corbett. For me, since I can switch off from “educatese” to street slang and back in the blink of an eye whether I’m talking or writing, I think it all has to do with the intended audience and what we’re most comfortable with.

To me, there can be plenty of nastiness and meanness online (or off) without ever using a swear word. On the other hand, using F-words and S-words and whatever-else-words doesn’t even make me blink in the context of a well-written blog post or article. All depends on context and how it’s used.

That said, I don’t generally use a lot of other-than-standard language online for 2 reasons: as a freelancer, if a potential client googles me and sees a lot of f-this and f-that, it could cost me (and using that language isn’t that important to me). Also, with the topic of my blog (peaceful living), I know rough language isn’t what people expect (lol) because they associate anger with it. So even if in my head I’m saying wtf or whatever and laughing as I write, others see anger in it because that’s their internal response to it (because a lot of people only use those words when they’re all pissed off).

Anyway, retiring that blog so I’ll be experimenting with language a little more freely in my new incarnation. And if someone doesn’t like it? F-’em :)

Jen Gresham May 25, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Okay, first, this video was hilarious. I love it. Hmmm, do I normally talk like a trucker? Good question!

Second, I consider myself a writer, and thus it’s not a question of whether I swear online or not, but whether the piece I’m writing calls for a swear word or not. This is the point I think so many online writers miss: it’s not really your choice, but the choice of the piece you’re writing (assuming you care to write it well). As you know, I wrote a piece for you entitled “What to Do When Other People’s Success Makes You Feel Like Shit.” That was actually the first time I’d used a swear word online (and in the title no less!), but that’s because I felt strongly that no other word fully captured the emotional envy and depression I wanted to convey. To me, swear words are just words. Use them wisely. All of them.

Dean May 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm

i have been wanting to know this for so long

I swear in life and my sense of humour is quirky and i need to start adding it all in my content :)

Remco May 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I like to swear, especially in spanish…….but I don’t do it on my website, as I want to treat it as a business. And I don’t swear during work neither.

Pekka Mattila May 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

Hi,

Can I ask what video setup do you use, since the video quality is excellent.

Thank you for a great blog!

Corbett May 26, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Yeah Pekka, the camera is a Panasonic GH2 with the Lumix f/1.7 20mm lens. The audio was recorded separately with a Rode Podcaster mic and synched up in final cut.

Mike Yasieniuk May 29, 2012 at 6:44 am

I personally don’t believe there is a need to curse on a business blog. If you can’t express yourself without swearing, you may need to take a language or writing course. I suppose there are some types of businesses where swearing may be considered appropriate, but not too many. I’m not turned off by the odd curse here or there in a post, but when it becomes repetitive and almost the main theme of a post, it is a turn off. I suggest that if you are writing a post that contains a large amount of expletives, have a short disclaimer at the start stating that, so that if someone can choose not to start reading before the post get derogatory.

Nomadic Samuel May 31, 2012 at 2:34 am

In my personal opinion, I’ve found blogs that are uncensored (not necessarily directly related to profanity) in a manner where opinions are expressed freely tend to resonate better with readers.

Jeff @ Digital Nomad Journey May 31, 2012 at 6:50 am

You’ve gotta be yourself, and if a few well placed F bombs are needed, go for it.
And let’s not forget a whole arsenal of other four letter words if need be.

It’s more entertaining to read something real, with a no holds barred flavor, then text from someone pulling punches.

Faith June 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I think it also depends on what you’re writing about and who your audience is. We don’t even use the same language in all aspects/situations of our daily lives. Just because I cuss like a sailor around close friends doesn’t mean I will when I’m talking to my doctor or the checkout guy at Trader Joes or someone’s grandma. In neither situation are you more or less authentic as long as you’re still being yourself and staying true to your ideals and your voice.

Michelle Dale June 6, 2012 at 5:04 am

What does Fuck mean?

Lol ;) I have actually never felt the need to swear on my blog, never thought about it until just now. I often have a potty mouth at home (after the kids have gone to bed of course), and I’ll keep it there I think :D

Ian McConnell June 12, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Corbett, I don’t drop the f bomb in conversation (except with myself) so it would appear very unnatural if I started using it online…

And I think that’s the point… being natural, authentic, genuine, comes across in any communication and it’s so important online. The days of hiding behind a website are gone.

If you swear in normal conversation, then trying not to swear in your communication online will also not work. Being your authentic self (online and off) makes it easier on yourself (no acting) and naturally attracts an audience that really want to hear from you and build a relationship.

This can only make good business sense.

Cheers
Ian McConnell
Western Australia

Andi-Roo June 21, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I refer to our culture’s antagonistic view toward swearing as the “Voldemort Syndrome”… “He who must not be named”… trading what you’re really trying to say for a tidy euphemism (a) waters down your point, & (b) lends more power to the word you’re trying to avoid.

When someone points out I’m being “lazy”, that always makes me laugh, because *ALL* language is lazy — it’s a way of quickly exchanging ideas utilizing agreed upon labels symbolizing what we mean. If I say I’m fucking tired, it’s not any less energetic than saying I’m really gosh-darn tired — or very, very, very tired.

When someone asks if I curse in front of my mom &/or kids, the answer is an emphatic YES. It makes my mom cringe & she detests it, but she is also extremely conservative & judgmental (the two not being mutually exclusive). It makes my 18-yr-old son laugh, because he agrees I’m funny as all hellz. It makes my 7-yr-old angry, because she knows it’s “inappropriate”. It makes my husband sigh, because he knows I just am the way I am.

So in blogging, yes, I abso-fucking-lutely drop the f-bomb, because that’s just what I do & how I speak.

In my writing (stories & novels), however, it depends upon the character. They do not all share my voice, nor do their individual settings & upbringings represent mine. So I am more sensitive to their backgrounds than I am to people on the street, or even my own family. Is this rotten of me. Yeah, probably. *shrugs* … I’ve been known to be a selfish bitch in my day. That’s just how I roll.

Rasmus @ Retire My Ass June 27, 2012 at 4:46 am

I don’t think the f… discussion is that big here in Europe, it’s more a US thing where it’s ok to show guns, blod and brain matter but not use a four letter pseudonym for making love.

Recently I re-branded my own blog using the word “ass” in the domain name and while it’s a little too soon to tell of I’ve lost visitors, all the feedback I’ve gotten has been positive.

I guess I’m a passionate dude so it’s difficult to not swear at least sometimes when you get really into one of your rambling zones :)

Corbett July 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Great analysis Rasmus :) We do have things a little backward here in the U.S. sometimes.

Eric July 11, 2012 at 4:03 am

Part of the difference for Europeans, too, is the fact that English is not most people’s native language, so they don’t carry the baggage many native speakers attach to words like “fuck.” My girlfriend is a non-native speaker, and you can tell she has one less filter to run phrases like “fuck that motherfucker” through.

Which is hilarious when we have dinner with my parents.

Justin July 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

Good points, Corbett…

We actually “swear” in the intro on our podcasts, lol. We had it recorded a couple of different ways, but ultimately decided to leave it in. We figured those that would appreciate it would appreciate it MORE than we cared to keep those who would be offended. I remember reading something about this from both Seth Godin and Derek Sivers…

I’m not gonna lie…was a little disappointed you had a video about the F-bomb and halfway in I hadn’t heard you say it! lol…you delivered in the end, though. :-)

That said, I definitely try not to swear in comments where there’s ANY question as to whether the blogger would be ok with it or not. In my house I can do as I please, but it’s always good to be respectful when just visiting…

Robert August 27, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Do I swear online? Fuck yeah I do. And for the record: sailors are the shit.

Denise May 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm

ha, yes! that blogger would be you, and I was hoping you would show up in this thread. ;-)

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