Did cavemen swear at each other?
I’d bet real money you wouldn’t have to search very far to find explicit examples of profanity in the primitive cave drawings of our ancestors.
For as long as people have been communicating, they’ve been doing so with curses as a means of amplifying their message.
In other words, swearing on the internet isn’t such a new phenomenon.
So why am I so terrified to just relax and swear like a sailor on the internet? We’re all adults here, right?
Maintaining Innocence in the Face of Honesty
The reason is simple: the audience. You. The reader. I don’t swear online for the same reason you don’t cuss the second someone walks in the front door of your business – swearing is rude.
Swearing in casual conversation does nothing except detract from your professionalism and the willingness of a client or customer to buy something from you.
However, what if the point of writing something is to encourage your reader to hop on board an emotional bandwagon with you? Wouldn’t it then be rude not to portray exactly what you’re feeling inside? If the world you’re describing operates on cussing and foul language, then isn’t it actually dishonest for the author to omit that language from their work?
The Impact of Swearing
I dropped out of journalism school. It took three months to realize writing to fit a pre-determined shape was not for me. Each day I dragged myself to class cut a little deeper until I was so flushed with despair and rage at the prospect of writing articles utterly devoid of opinion that I woke up one morning, smashed my alarm clock and fell back into non-conformist bliss.
“Fuck this,” in short.
Now, which of the above two explanations of my journalism school experience speaks louder to you? My melodramatic use of nouns like ‘despair’ and ‘rage’ or the quick f-sharp?
Because that’s the only thing that matters: the reaction. Every time you write something and publish it online you’re taking a risk. Swearing online is a risk, but is it a calculated one?
The Reaction Is All That Matters
Desensitization is a reality when it comes to swearing online, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to have an easier time developing a stable relationship with clients or co-workers by swearing more than Leo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street. In that case, desensitization works against you – the cusses lose their power.
I’m still the newbie at LowerLonsdale.ca, but we’re all journalists, bloggers, photographers, reviewers and creators and we still can’t come to clearcut common ground on the subject. All we know is that, as writers, we don’t want to overtly offend.
So, to wrap, when is it alright to swear online?
My answer? Whenever it would be alright to swear out loud.
There you have it. A tight 522 words about swearing on the internet and only one f-bomb.
So what do you think? How often does cursing play a part in the day-to-day operation of your business?