Lately, a few discussions regarding the use of profane or obscene language have wafted into my sphere of consciousness.
Recalling old media law debates on the meaning of decency as defined by community standards, these conversations have served to sketch out the huge gray area that is appropriateness in online communication.
If I write a blog for my company, and the company culture is not too conservative, can I write “WTF” in the blog comments? Should I edit or delete a user comment containing a reference to blowjobs?
If I’m just another social media user with nothing to lose, should I still refrain from sharing a joke about a prostitute based on the knowledge that someone at my company will eventually see anything I post and judge me accordingly?
Most interesting of all related questions, if I’m a sole proprietor or consultant whose business often comes through online channels, should I remain “human and authentic” (i.e., occasionally and as necessary employing slight vulgarisms) and attract the kinds of clients I enjoy working with; or should I refrain from all obscenities and profanities so as to widen the conversion bottleneck and risk losing as little new business as possible?
Many questions, many answers. Here’s an overview of some of the answers I got when I posted the general to-swear-or-not-to-swear question on Twitter: