Home > life, social media > When Is Swearing or Cursing OK?

When Is Swearing or Cursing OK?

I was watching the Grammy’s last night when Drake/Eminem/Lil Wayne performed something. I wasn’t sure what they performed because over half of it was censored by CBS. The moments of silence were appreciated, as I was working on a different blog post.

It inspired me to send out two tweets:

“Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Eminem, Drake, lil wayne; combined, you owe me 11 minutes, 28 seconds of my life back. When can I collect on that?” (still early, but no response from any of the involved parties)

“Why do people swear/curse in tweets? I’ve unfollowed some who choose to do that. You lose a lot of legitimacy when you do that #NotNecessary

The second tweet started a good conversation amongst my following. Many agreed with me; some asked what words were appropriate; one sent me a direct message and apologized for a curse in a recent tweet (it’s ok… I’ll let it slide this one time :)), and one person suggested I write about my thoughts on swearing. So, here I am.

Swearing in social media does not make sense to me. Why anyone needs to say the F-word, N-word, C-word, B-word in a tweet or Facebook status update is beyond me. I have unfollowed people that have used those types of words, as I do not want to be associated with those types of people.

In most situations, swearing makes you appear as one with a low intelligence level. F this, F that, F you! Would you say that during an interview? A presentation? No, unless you wanted to be unemployed or fired.

Imagine saying that on a first date, or any date for that matter. Does that really sound attractive coming out of anyone’s mouth? No, no it does not. Women: do not try to sound like one of the guys. Men: do not try to sound edgy by swearing. It doesn’t matter who it’s coming from: it’s gross.

Would you use that language around strangers at a networking event, where you are making your first impression on fellow industry people, or potential employers, or potential business leads and future clients? No, no you would not. Do not try to say that you would either. We all know better.

Then why should it be in a tweet?

I have never sworn in the social media world. Offline is a different story. No, I do not sound like a trucker. There are times I replay what I just said and wonder ‘was that necessary?’

Does swearing or cursing add value? I am curious to hear your thoughts. (keep it clean :))

~J

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  1. February 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Great post Jason – I just swore for the first time ever in a tweet last Sunday when the Vikings lost… It felt really good at the time, but was also really stupid long term. It’s just not a good thing to do, and I agree that it reflects poorly on those who use them.

    Funny though, because the tweet with the curse actually got several positive and empathetic reactions… more reaction than I normally get from a tweet.

    I posted the same status on Facebook but wrote F – instead of the whole word, and 8 people “liked” the status, and several others commented.

    All of this goes to say that I absolutely agree with you, and I’m embarrassed to let it slip publicly in a state of emotion… but perhaps context is equally important for the reaction that a tweet may receive.

  2. Mike Stafford
    February 1, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    I did a quick scroll down of my news feed and counted seven people cursing/swearing on their facebook. I qucikly glanced at their names and realized before this I never really took what those people had to say seriously. Great post, it is a must share.

  3. Konrad
    February 1, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    I think it all depends on the enviroment your in. If you’re at some convention and trying to get a job then it’s quite obvious vulgar language is probably not approriate. I don’t think I’ve cursed in the past on social media websites, but I do tend to swear a bit when I’m with my friends…I get it from my Father. A lot of times I use it while trying to be funny. I think the top comedians of all time all cursed…Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Chris Rock…Bill Cosby is the only exception, and i like him as well.

    Social Networks in my opinion is not really a formal setting either. You have all kind of videos, pictures, comments being sent that are not something you’d bring to work the place, which in my opinion, is the point. It’s supposed to be fun and entertaining and at the same time a way of keeping in contact with old friends and family. Of course everything should be in moderation…

    I’m not overly sensitive, if someone curses it doesn’t really bother me. If someone was using racial slurs I would be much more offended, but I don’t have friends that use those type of words.

  4. Dez
    February 1, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    I think it depends on your audience. Marketers and PR people that I follow tend to stray away from casual conversation on social media, yet those I’ve met are pretty much the same as me in the use of language category in a social setting.

    I don’t filter myself, yet I’ve learned to accomplish the same ideas through use of other words. However, to try to accurately portray your feelings of anger or an opinion of something a curse word is fine.

    Swearing has never bothered me, in fact my last job asked if I mind an occasional F bomb as an interview question.

    I guess if you’re on SM for professional reasons keep it professional, but if you’re just being you I wouldn’t worry about it. Follow or Unfollow alike is the choice of the person clicking the follow button.

    However Mike was correct that people who post status updates with curse words often are ones that I don’t really take seriously.

    During the Vikings game last week this was all out the window for me.

    http://cursebird.com/ is a good indicator. Mine says I swear like a rapper yet in my 4746 tweets it only finds 18 posts that have the f, s, b, b, or d word.

  5. February 1, 2010 at 10:14 PM

    Hi Jason-

    I find swearing on any social media platform a No-No. In real life, I am not offended when people swear in moderation. I’ll even admit to using bad language from time to time. *gasp* However, my HS English teacher once told me that anyone constantly expressing emotion through profanity is lacking creativity in their vocabulary.

    Swearing online is both too public and too permanent. It reflects poorly on the person who is not wise enough to know better. Using mildly negative language on the internet is a slippery slope. In the moment, the explicative might seem appropriate but shouting it to the world via Facebook/Twitter is not a good idea.

    People in my network tend to stay away from dropping big bombs like the f-word or the n-word. I cringe when witnessing albums on Facebook with the titles “retard” and “slut”. Though the words seem less harmful, they still should not be posted. And I certainly don’t want to be tagged in any albums with such titles.

    Thanks for the conversation. Cheers to keeping it PG.
    -Allison

  6. February 10, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    At the time you posted this I agreed but did not give it much thought. Since then I have read no less then three blog posts by people that either have a swear word in the title or multiple swear words in the actual post. I wish more people would read this post and take it to heart.

  7. Dez
    February 11, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    Nobody has brought up the fact that if your are running a blog that has ads on it swearing can affect whether or not ads are displayed and also the revenue you receive and the quality of ads you receive.

  8. russ maloney
    May 6, 2010 at 2:06 AM

    “Social media” is a term that people uncomfortable with the concept use to describe “all the stuff I say online.” I say that the two aren’t separable, and anyone trying to keep one at arm’s length from the other is committing a faux pas greater than a simple curse word in a tweet: putting up a facade. If you don’t curse in real life, then cool. But those of us not self-conscious to our nail-bitten core needn’t be chastised by the rest of the “blogosphere,” “twitterverse,” or whatever other awesome buzzword “late adopters” can muster as a description of what we’re ultimately talking about: people expressing themselves as who they truly are.

    If you unfollow, block, dislike or thumbs-down a curse online, I’d expect you follow suit in regular situations. Do you? If not, why? Is it really that big a deal? Perhaps I’m coming off a bit abrasive; that’s not my intent. What I’m saying is – at he very least, give folks some credit and take context into account. I would certainly develop a negative perception of someone if every other thing out of their mouth were the f-word, because it’d be clear to me they had no tact. I could reasonably conclude that they’re the same way if I’d met them face-to-face. But don’t write someone off in a single instance and then devote an entire blog post to it. It speaks much louder volumes about what kind of person you are than having a spicy tongue.

    • May 6, 2010 at 10:45 AM

      Hey Russ,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I was just at a local networking event where separating professional and personal persona online was one of the main conversation topics. It is difficult to separate both personas if you expect to maintain authenticity.

      I swear in real life, but don’t see it being necessary in social media, as you are representing yourself, your clients, and your workplace in everything you do online. In real life, it is easier to determine what you can and cannot get away with regarding language. If someone curses first, you can be more relaxed and choose to do the same with that one person. However, when online, your tweet or facebook status is reaching everyone at once, and the chance that you offend a client, friend, or your company is much greater.

      To me, it’s not worth the risk. You can state any point you’re trying to make just as clear without cursing. It does make me think about why I swear in real life; it’s something I am cutting back on day by day (I’m making it sound like I was addicted to swearing :))

      You did not come off abrasive; I understand your viewpoint 100%. Thank you for commenting; I hope you read future posts of mine!

      Jason

  9. July 24, 2010 at 6:55 AM

    Just stumbled upon this post, I have to say I completely disagree.

    You may find this interesting:



  1. February 4, 2010 at 11:25 AM

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