Thursday, February 3, 2011

The F-Bomb in Blog Posts

This blog post is a discussion about the use of the f-bomb and other curse words while blogging. If you're offended by such language, this post will be filled with foul language. You have been warned.

I don't have a moral issue with cursing. I don't think a person is going to hell because they say "shit," "piss," "fuck," et al. I can swear like a sailor if the situation calls for it. They are words like any other words used to convey meaning and emotion.

However, I learned not to swear in public. In private I might call my brother a goddamn motherfucking son of a bitch, but not out in public. Because some people are offended by such language and don't want to hear it. When you swear out in public you are not giving them the option of not hearing it. And because people will judge you based on the language that you use.

A blog is public. It is more public than going out to a restaurant for dinner. Anyone in the world with access to the internet can read your blog. What you say and how you say things on your blog is out there for the world to see. It is your public persona and people will judge you based on what you put on it.

While we could get on our highhorse and demand that people not judge us because we use the word fuck or shit in our blog posts or take a tough shit stance to what we say, the reality is that people will judge you based on the language that you use.

And writers depend on their readers making that kind of judgement. A character is defined by their speech. Consider the following four statements:
"Wow! This is great!"
"Oh! I say, good job!"
"Holy guacamole! This is wonderful!"
"Fucking A, Bubba! This is the shit!"
The same information is conveyed in all four sentences, but the image of the person speaking is different.

"Fuck" is an expletive used to express anger or give emphasis to the word it modifies. When "fuck" is overused then it loses its power to express anger or to emphasize. When one talks like this: "Fuck, you won't fucking believe what that fucker fucking said to fucking me yesterday fucking morning while I was fucking driving to fucking work," the listener's brain becomes numb and stops reacting to the word "fuck." If you talk like this, you've got nowhere to go when you are really angry and want to express it.

Whereas with the person who rarely swears, if you hear them say, "fuck," you better head for the hills because they are steaming mad about something. Calling someone a "goddamn motherfucking son of a bitch" carries a whole lot more power and has a greater impact coming from someone who never swears than from someone who gives a whole new meaning to the words "potty mouth."

What prompted this post? In the past few days, I've read several blog posts with unnecessary profanity. So, for fuck's sake, think about the fucking impact your fucking words have on your fucking readers before you fucking publish your fucking blog post.


  1. That made me cackle. Seriously.

    Another thought for writers in particular: profanity looks a lot dirtier in print than it sounds in speech. Possibly because it blips by in your hearing, but if you're reading a page, it's still there in front of your eyes / peripheral for the next forty seconds (or however long it takes you to read two facing pages).

  2. Good point. And looking back over what I wrote, I hope nobody's eyes are bleeding from reading this post...

  3. *raises a hand* I'm one of those with a fuck-filled blog.

    And personally, I don't really care what people think of me. Anyone, doesn't matter who you are, what you do. Publisher? Editor? Soooo? I informed my readers on my little blog a very long time ago that I am who I am and I refuse to pander to anyone for anything. I'm not changing who I am for the general public - if people are going to take me, they take me as I is. Silly, crude, foul mouthed and bitchy, with a bad sense of humor and a cynical point of view. I don't act any differently in public than I do at home. Same on my blog - I'm me. If I pretend to be someone else to please the public at large, then that makes me a hypocrite. And that's one thing I am not, will not ever be, and have never been. I'd rather stay true to myself than censure my personality to please someone I don't even know. If they don't want to read it, then they have no business reading my blog. Or my books, for that matter. Or any of my short stories.

    It makes me angry to think that people feel the need to change themselves because of what it makes them look like. I'd rather read a million blogs, stories, novels and poems that include the word fuck than two articles without. Want to know why? Because it's true, bald faced humanity. I like to think I don't need some false veneer of snobbery to make me acceptable.

    And I'd rather be unacceptable than fake.

    But that's just my opinion.

  4. Wow... that sounded a lot harsher than I intended. Diana, I hope you know I'm not ranting at you.

  5. Actually, I read your blog and I can't remember it being laced with unnecessary profanity. The keyword here is unnecessary.

    I wasn't suggesting that anyone be fake or a hypocrite.

    The word judge and judging carry a negative connotation. Saying someone is nice, sweet, good is just as judgemental as saying someone is mean, nasty, bad. We tend to think of judgement as being only negative.

    My choosing not to swear in public is just as much who I am as someone else choosing to let the profanity fly. That doesn't make me fake or a hypocrite.

    Using the word "fuck" in a blog post doesn't make it true, bald-faced humanity. I can give you true, bald-faced, shocking humanity without using the word "fuck" and I can give you a profanity laden post without a shred of truth or humanity in it.

    Effie, You're a damn good writer, I know that you can be real with using profanity. It is you choice whether to do so or not.

    If nothing I said here has any value to you, that's fine. Just ignore it.

  6. Effie, I went back and looked through your blog. I had to go all the way back to November 15 to find the word fuck. Given the topic of the post and how you feel about it, I don't think it was unnecessary. You're not one of those with a "fuck-filled blog" that prompted me to write this post.

    In fact, that post of yours demonstrates what I was saying about conserving the power of the word fuck. "And they don't fucking deserve it." reaches out, slaps the reader in the face, and drives the point home. Which is what you wanted. If the rest of the post had been filled with profanity, the power of that statement would have been diminished.

  7. I see what you are saying Diana. I wasn't saying that your post had no merit, either - I suppose I was just puzzled by the statement because of how I see my own blog. Now that you've explained it to me, I can see I was reading it wrong. This is what happens when we read something after a week of non-stop running and we are tired. Yes, extraneous use of profanity does tend to give the wrong impression. Seeing five f-bombs in one page is overboard... I was just reading your post wrong - thinking you meant even a couple was too much.

    However, I do think some people think of profanity as just another part of language. To some, it no longer seems dirty. Even seeing it in their writing doesn't look bad; it's just another word. I think different generations feel differently about the use of foul language. Me - I think of words only as dirty if they are used it a dirty way. Telling my husband to "come F*&! me" and saying "What the f*&!" mean two totally different things.

    And my comment above does indeed sound harsher than I meant it to and I apologize for that. I think of my blog as "fuck filled"... and since it really isn't compared to some, I guess that means that I think along the same lines as you do. To me, my blog has *a lot* of F-bombs in it. To you though, it seems like there aren't that many. I guess my "potty mouth" isn't as bad as what I thought!

  8. No worries. ;)

    I have an uncle who gasps in outrage or gets the prune face whenever he hears even mild profanity like hell or damn.

    To me curse words are words like any other. They convey meaning and emotion. The attribute of foulness is put on them by the individual.

    I tend not to notice when other people use profanity. If it gets to the point that I do notice it, then they're probably overusing the words. Find some other ones to use.