Chances are, if you’ve been using the internet long, you’ve seen someone make a post something like, “that f#%$*ng b!@#$ is just crazy” – or something similar. If you’ve experienced seeing one of those, what were your thoughts or feelings – not about the subject of the post, but about the way the person chose to word it?
The F-Bomb on Twitter or Facebook
I’ve noticed a LOT of people (not majority, thank goodness) on Twitter who use the “F-word” on a regular basis – in most of their tweets. Soon after, I also saw quite a few people using the same language on Facebook. I’d always been taught that swearing at all is rude and the common use of profane language is offensive to most people. (Yes, still, I have been challenged in this area.)
Watching my own language has always been one of my own, personal challenges. Just about the time I get upset or frustrated, the word filter at my mouth seems to fall right off. While I know I’m not alone in this particular issue, I usually feel guilty once profanity has flown from my own lips. Most of all, if it’s been directed to anyone in particular.
[quote type=”center”]In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer. ~Mark Twain[/quote]
We can understand people saying things and then quickly wanting to retract them, what about writing using such profanity as the “F-word” – especially online, in such forums as Twitter of Facebook?
Public Opinion on Public Swearing
Recently, I started asking people who are online frequently for their opinions on using profanity in posts to social networks. I wasn’t surprised by the answers at all.
- Only a couple of people indicated that it was OK to use the “f-word” if that’s how they normally talk – something about keeping written communication inline with their real-life personas.
- The vast majority (about 80%) said that they don’t believe profanity is acceptable for “regular conversation” even though they support freedom of speech.
- About 20% seem to feel that if you’re trying to get a certain point across, profanity might help to drive that point home.
- Finally, two people replied that swearing online is OK if you’re angry or “smokin’ mad”.
The Bottom Line on Online Swearing
It’s always seemed to me like there’s a sort of grade or level system when it comes to profanity. Some words like “damn”, “hell” and “crap” rank more innocent and less offensive than other four-letter relatives like the “s-word” and “f-word”. That still doesn’t make using them in a profane way throughout speech proper or acceptable.
Have you ever thought that a person could get into legal trouble by using profanity online? Yes, it’s true. You might find this post by Social CPR helpful. They suggest using a thesaurus to find an alternative word for illustrating whatever point you’re trying to make, rather than resorting to profanity.
While we do have freedom of speech (at least for the time-being in the U.S.), I don’t believe that we have the right to carelessly offend others, through our speech or in any other way. If you swear frequently, I challenge you to eliminate offensive profanity from your speech – in person and in writing. Currently, I’m doing good with the “in writing” part…and still struggling each week in person.
So, what do YOU think? Is using profanity online acceptable? Is it only OK in certain circumstances? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below.