Is Profanity Online Really Necessary? Is Profanity Online Really Necessary?
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". Is... Is Profanity Online Really Necessary?
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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.

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  • My philosophy is what you got to at the end – don't unnecessarily offend people. It's not worth it and it's not polite. I do also agree that there are degrees of cussing – so WTH is much more innocuous than an F-bomb on Twitter or FB, but in general, I think social media is a good place to pretend your mom is watching. I think that well placed profanity 😉 belongs in conversations or situations where you know everyone in the room personally. We all need a good cuss now and then – I'd just keep that in real life and off line as a general rule.

    • Very insightful & well written, Lydia. Love what you said about social media being a good place to pretend our mom's are watching. I'll remember that!

      While my opinion has never been gospel, I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Pat

    I just remember what a College English Professor once said (it was something like this).
    In the Dictionary you will find the f word all the other swear/profanity words. You will also find other words that can be used in there place. The difference is an intelligent person will spend the time to look for these words, a person with less intelligence will be to lazy to find different words and stick to using profanity. With the ability to use more powerful words you can show strength, get your point accross, and show how small minded a person who uses profanity is without offending anyone.
    I choose not to swear but will admit that I do slip when I get really mad and I'm not proud of myself when I do.

    • This is a really good point. Usually those who use profanity in every sentence & have dozens of ways to use the f-word, are of a certain mentality. They often seem crass & uneducated and are the same people who will berate another person for using "fancy words" in place of swearing. Whether in a business or personal setting, I believe that there's no reason to be offensive in our language. It never makes a person sound tougher or more intelligent – rather, the opposite, as you're saying.

      Like you, I prefer not to swear and have made a great effort lately to eliminate it from my speech. Yet, I still do slip up – especially when I'm fueled by emotion. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  • I agree entirely. Profanity is unnecessary and does not show respect for the feelings of others or for God, as most swear words tend to be blasphemous.

    • You have a very valid point here – that most swear words are blasphemous & disrespectful of our God.

      Thanks for sharing your insight Brett! Hope to see you here again soon.

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