You know how I love to watch social media and see what’s happening in the world. Well, there’s one topic that’s been coming up again and again over the last few days.
It’s something I’ve spoken about briefly before, but I think it’s worth a quick revisit.
I’m talking about using profanities… swearing… cussing… using the “F” and “C” bombs, FFS!
Now to be clear, I’m not being all “judgy” on swearing in your day to day life.
Trust me, I’m in no position to judge anyone. Growing up as a Navy brat, armed me with all the swear words a girl needs in one lifetime. I am a black belt in creative cussing. (Being a nurse and a copywriter helps a lot!)
What I’m talking about here is using profanities in your business communications and branding.
Sure there are a few people who are able to pull off the “swearing sage” persona, but for every one of them… there are thousands more who fail dismally.
But what is with all the swearing?
Does it make people “edgy” or “cool” if they swear?
Swearing has been around since language was invented. Probably before then if you think about it. I mean, one single finger in a simple gesture can speak volumes.
People of all ages and backgrounds swear. It’s not a generational thing… all generations swear.
But where it becomes a bit generational is when the “latest generation” thinks they own it and it makes them different than everyone else. I can hear the groans from older generations now! Because we’ve all been there and done that.
The same cycle seems to happen in the Business world, especially when it comes to marketers and “influencers.”
People usually justify their cussing by saying they don’t care or don’t give a f*^k if people are offended. But the reality is… when people say they don’t care… they do!
I’m afraid that whenever I see or hear the phrase “no f*^ks given” …I don’t buy it!
Because when people really don’t care, you’ll never hear anything about it… period! They have nothing to prove!
They just get on with what they’re doing and if a swear word “pops” out in their passionate communication… then so be it.
Maybe that’s what all the swearing is really about… people who haven’t “got it” trying to prove they are “cool” or “edgy.”
But the truth is, depending on where you live or were brought up, we have all heard people swear. It’s on prime time TV, in movies, in books (even in my book) and in songs. It’s everywhere in our modern day society. And I think the shock value of profanities is on the decline.
When I listen to a person who swears all the time, the swear words eventually don’t register for me. But then something else happens… I become aware that without the swearing… they really don’t have too much to say. So I switch off completely.
And this insight is a perfect lead into Knowledge Nugget #109…
Swearing Should Be The “Seasoning” …Not The Whole Meal!
Let me explain…
When you go to a restaurant and order a meal, do you like it when it’s covered with salt and pepper before you’ve even tasted it?
I know I don’t. I like to put my own seasoning on to my taste. And I think that’s an important point.
It’s all about individual taste.
I don’t think there has been an “increase” in swearing over the last week… or the last year for that matter. I think that people have somehow found themselves in circles where they don’t actually belong or feel comfortable in. (Their sensitivities have been “assaulted”… a salted… Okay! I ‘m not funny!)
…So now they are aware of it and they see swearing everywhere (this is their Reticular Activating System at work, which is the part of your brain that recognizes things).
But as I said, swearing has always existed. It’s not going away anytime soon.
Now, when it comes to business, I believe that if people have to use profanity as a way to stand out… then it’s a lame tactic and it has a short shelf life. Because what happens when the words you use no longer get the attention of your market?
Do you replace the “F” bomb with the “C” bomb? But what do you replace the “C” bomb with?
…And how long will you be “edgy” or “cool” for… before you just look like a “try hard?”
New generations are growing up and we know they will repeat the patterns of every generation before them. X-Gen people don’t usually think Baby Boomers are “edgy” when they swear… it barely registers on their radar.
But if they do notice, they think the Boomer looks dumb… And the same happens with other generations.
I think when it comes to swearing and business, the best piece of advice is to speak like your market speaks. But there’s a caveat.
You see, when I was in the Army, as an Officer I learned very quickly there is a time and a place for everything. And that included swearing. There are many occasions where swearing is not appropriate… and it pays to know when they are.
Now your market may swear in candid conversations, but they may not swear elsewhere. So that means… unless you’re having a candid conversation with them… you shouldn’t swear around them.
But some people feel that they have an entitlement to swear. Because that’s just “who they are” …and if other people can’t “handle it” then it’s their problem. I think this is misguided and juvenile!
…It reminds me of a 2-year-old child trying to get their parents attention. It works a few times and then they get punished.
This is where considerate and conscious communication comes in. It takes more intelligence and finesse to communicate with your market at whatever comfort level they’re at.
Being masterful in the way you communicate with people is one of the best skills you can have. It can be used in every aspect of your life. There are moments a well-timed profanity will emphasize your point and there are other times it will diminish it. The artful communicator knows the difference.
As marketers, copywriters and business owners… We need to know when to apply “seasoning” and when to leave it off.
Until next week… take care and pass the f*^king salt! : )
a.k.a. “The Copy Alchemist”
P.S. There’s a saying that… “people who swear have a smaller vocabulary,” but I disagree.
One of my mentors is an A-Class swearer… but only in private conversations, and his vocabulary is so extensive, it puts many people to shame. And I know many more people like him, so vocabulary isn’t the problem people think it is.
But I have never seen him swear in his copy… so until I do, I guess I won’t swear in mine either.
P.P.S. A few people in a copywriting group said they hate it when people use f*^king symbols instead of letters. They think it lacks commitment. I think they are f*^king wrong!
The reason is, when you type, you have every opportunity to edit out your swearing. Unlike the spoken word, where “F” bombs sometimes happen spontaneously, in the written word… there are no such accidents.
Using symbols is a way to swear, but to do it in a way as to not offend people. And here’s how that works… I’m not actually the person swearing when I use symbols… the reader is the one who fills in the blanks, not me. Any offence they take is really with themselves.
P.P.P.S. I just ordered the proof copy of my book “From Depression’s Darkness to the Light of Life.” I can’t wait to have it in my hands. It is now 144 pages long (my original version of the book was only 60!) and I have added a few more chapters in it that are not in the Kindle version yet.
I’ll let you know where you can get a copy as soon as I can. I am hoping to have some with me on my epic America trip in October! Let me know if you want one.
Thank you for reading 🙂