One day, I was looking at the Community Chat page on The Blogging Meetup and I came across a few posts by Steven Sawyer. I responded to a couple of them, but I didn’t respond to a post about swearing (in blog posts).
In the post entitled, “Why use profanity in blog posts?” Steven Sawyer posed a few other questions about the use of profanity. One of the bloggers who responded to Mr. Sawyer’s post, Kiwanna, shared a post of hers from earlier this year on the very same subject.
Here’s What Steven Sawyer and Kiwanna Said
Mr. Sawyer said it was less about his Christian faith but more about how curse words make a writer look. In short, he said that the use of profanity showed a lack of respect towards readers.
Kiwanna feels that swearing is a turn off. From her view, there is no need for bloggers to swear in their posts.
Here’s What I Think About Swearing in General
On the whole, I’m not bothered by swearing — provided curse words are used sparingly. Also, there are times when I feel that it’s appropriate (or inappropriate) to swear. I feel the same for any written work, any form of entertainment, and live conversation.
In real life, swearing may in fact be healthy. Studies have shown that swearing can lessen physical pain. It can serve as a healthy release of anger, depending on how often one uses curse words and how taboo they are. Swearing might also help members in some close-knit communities feel closer. In short, it can serve a basic human need.
With that in mind, here are a few criteria I use:
1. It Depends on the Writer’s Mood
Is the writer angry? In that case, a little swearing isn’t bad in my view. If it is a personal blog, that is what it’s there for.
Also, like a said before, a personal blog exists first and foremost for the writer. (There might be some naughty words in there, because I was pretty peeved.) Even professional novel writers should write for themselves first.
Now, I know when a person publicizes their written work it means that it’s open for public consumption. But if a blogger isn’t writing with their own voice, that defeats the purpose of the blog.
This might turn off some readers, but it’s not really meant as a sign of disrespect. The blogger might already have a specific audience in mind. In that case, the regular readers might not mind the use of profanity at all.
This leads me to my next point …
2. It Depends on the Audience
Where is the blog being posted? Who does the blogger want to appeal to? Who is being addressed?
The people in the community (on certain sites) may use profanity. In that case, I see no problem with putting curse words in text there. And in that sense, it is not disrespectful to the audience.
However, it someone is writing a professional blog or a blog they want professionals to see, it would be sound advice to think more about the words they use. Hiring managers might not like the use of profanity (or certain topics, for that matter).
Additionally, there are some people who refrain from using curse words and would like to avoid their uses in daily conversation. When someone respectfully tells me that they don’t like curse words
3. It Depends on the Type of Conversation and Purpose
As I mentioned above, there are people who just don’t like to swear. In those conversations, it is easy to avoid swearing because you know they won’t. (But sometimes there are frustrating people who make me want to swear because of their shenanigans.)
There are many comedians who do swear and they use certain words to pepper their jokes. People who view their shows, sets, programs, and specials are forewarned. This goes back to one’s audience.
In other cases, two people might be debating a topic. I think it shows weakness when one person resorts to swearing (at the other person) because the other person is saying things the first person doesn’t like or doesn’t agree with, provided the other person isn’t being rude or disrespectful.
Of course, there are people who use swearing to intimidate. That hypothetical person in the debate is definitely using swearing to intimidate and that disgusts me.
4. It Depends on the Amount of Curse Words in a Given Space
Like I said above, I am not bothered by occasional swearing. But the excessive used of profanity is a turn off.
I hate it when the person I’m talking to swears incessantly. Now, while I understand that someone might be angry, I can tell when someone wants to use “grown up” words just to use them. The overuse of swear words detracts from their entire speech.
Take “The Big Lebowski,” for example. I know that it has a following, particularly on the Internet, but I didn’t like that movie because of the amount of curse words. In one car scene with Jeff Bridges and John Goodman, their characters were repeatedly yelling the F-word. Of course, the F-bomb was thrown around much more in that movie, but I couldn’t get past that scene.
As Far As Blogging Goes …
There are bloggers I follow who use swear words. I don’t mind their swearing because their blog posts are well-written. Also, they are very respectful to other bloggers, including me.
I am harsher on myself, though. I have used swear words in some of my earlier WordPress posts, but sparingly. (There is one post that is full of curse words, but I put them in spoiler text. This was to reflect the topic of censorship.)
In writing some posts, I decided to remove some words because I felt that there were unnecessary. I might remove some of them upon closer inspection.
Also, I think I have cut back because of some of my followers. I can tell that some don’t like curse words. And it’s easier to refrain from swearing when I write my featured posts, and posts on any serious topics, anyway.
Still, I won’t judge others who use swear words. It’s their blog, it’s their choice, and if some people don’t like it, so bit it. We can’t read everyone’s blogs anyway and there are blogs that just don’t speak to us, whether or not there’s any swearing.
What Do You Think?
I want to here from the blogging community. I’m going to leave a poll here but everyone is free to leave a comment.