… by Jason Falls
When I was in seventh grade I was kicked out of math class for expressing my frustration to the teacher about being unfairly called on for talking by using an expletive. My point was to underline the frustration that not only was I not talking, but the person sitting in front of me knew he was getting me in trouble by acting out. Her reaction was to throw me out of class and send me to the principal’s office where I would certainly be spanked.
And I was. Yes kids, there was a time when you actually had to pay for your crimes in schools. All you time-out generation punks can kiss my slightly more flattened ass.
While I’ll be the first to admit that wasn’t the first nor the last time my potty mouth has gotten me in trouble, I’ve never considered swear words to be off-limits in how I talk to people, how I write and certainly not how I blog. They’re part of my personality.
Don’t get me wrong — when I’m around people I’ve met for the first time, I’m not sure if they’re comfortable with salty language. I am capable of behaving. There is something to be said for a little tact now and then. But for me, an S-word here or even and F-word there are like interjections. POW! They hit you a little harder and emphasize the things you’re trying to say in a powerful, yet admittedly unpolished way.
Foul language for most people is a black or white issue. If it’s a swear word, it’s off limits. If it’s not, then it is acceptable. But few people ever take the context into play. I love Chris Rock’s standup-comedy bit about using the N-word. While I won’t rehash it, and frankly the N-word is one that more commonly turns me off than other words regardless of context, the point is true. No single word is always bad. If used in context, it brings depth to the conversation.
While I don’t intentionally carry the banner of foul-mouthed social media guy … okay, maybe I do since I named my book No Bullshit Social Media … I don’t walk away from who I am. And who I am is someone who speaks what’s on his mind, even if it hasn’t been edited or cleaned out with soap.
So when I blog, I have the same approach. If the word makes sense to use, if it serves as an appropriate interjection or punch line to a point, I use it. I don’t enter each post thinking, “What swear word will I use today.” But if it compliments the prose, I don’t steer away.
Sure, there are those that think in doing so I scare off businesses and brand that might be thinking of hiring me. There’s validity to that point. But if a client is going to be upset because I utter a swear word now and then, the relationship isn’t going to go very far anyway, right?
As best I can tell, none off the things I do for a living … write books, speak at conferences, advise companies on content and marketing strategies and produce information and education products … are end sum games. If someone doesn’t want to buy my book, they don’t have to. There will be plenty of people out there who will and not get hung up with the word “Bullshit” on the cover. The same is true for the other services I offer.
So why paint myself into a corner being something I’m not when the truth will always come out in the end?
And you thought I was going to end by saying a more bawdy version of, “screw ’em!” Didn’t ya?
What are your thoughts on the subject? Join me tonight at #BWEchat on Twitter at 9:00 EST. We’ll be discussing Swearing in Social Media and I’ll be joined by Marcus Sheridan of Sales Lion.
Jason Falls is the CEO of Social Media Explorer, a digital marketing and social media information and education products company. His new book No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and retail book stores everywhere.