We don’t swear in our house.
It’s a personal choice. No judgment.
But last night, my sweet, just-turned-four-year-old daughter said her very first swear word.
She was sitting at the table, coloring, when I heard her say, “And now I’ll draw the d— cat.”
“What did you say?!” I asked.
Very sweetly she said, “D—.”
I quickly let her know that we don’t say that word. And she promised not to say it again.
We could have dropped it at that point, but then her dad came in the room.
“What word don’t we say?” he asked.
I told him.
“It’s YouTube,” he said. “She’s learning it from YouTube. We gotta get the kids off YouTube. They don’t need it!”
“Yeah,” my daughter said, “We gotta get off that D— YouTube!”
If you’re a parent, then you know how funny it is when your child shouts out a swear word for the very first time. My husband and I had to both leave the room so our daughter didn’t get the wrong message and start thinking swearing was funny.
Obviously we’ll have to parent her later.
Well, after the kids went to bed that night, I jumped on the computer to do some social media research. (I’m a social media novice, so I’ve got a lot to learn.)
I opted in to receive a guide on Facebook ads. And when the email, delivering the guide, showed up, I was shocked! In the first sentence of the email, the F-word showed up.
The same word shows up twice more in the same email.
And it got me thinking. So I asked my husband, “Is it okay to swear in your emails? I mean I know Dan Kennedy has his whole “No B.S.” book series but he doesn’t actually say the word. And Gary Vaynerchuk seems to think it’s okay – probably because it’s authentic. But is it okay?”
“Is she Australian?” he asked. “My Australian clients are always saying, ‘Sorry I’m swearing, but I’m Australian.’ Apparently it’s a cultural thing.”
Turns out this person is Australian. But I know better than to stereotype anyone!
I sat for awhile longer, wondering about the use of swear words in copy. And ultimately, you know what I decided? It’s not worth the risk. Only a small percentage of people on the other end will think it’s cute or funny. And there’s a good chance you’ll offend a whole bucket-load of people. Including, of course, people in your target market.
Those you don’t offend will be distracted (even if it’s only subconsciously), and won’t give your message their full attention.
Since there are a million ways to be authentic without swear words, we should reign in the language. And remove unnecessarily offensive phrases or references. Even if it is a cultural influence.
If you disagree with me, I’d love to read your comments below.