!*%#* The F Word

Remember when you were little and you swore? Then the other kid said, “I’m telling, you said the F word.” It was the one of those times when you thought, just maybe, the tattletale had something on you. Forget that. The F word is pretty much okay now. In print, on TV, and especially on the Internet. It’s the way of the blog.

But does it actually make good business?

I’m not talking about SEO rankings and being found. I’m talking about old fashioned content and the plain and simple act of not offending. My grandmother would have said don’t offend in this way. Obviously, it’s an age thing, but it’s also who you run with and where you’re running.

I started noticing an increase in the use of the printed F word a few years ago when friends on Facebook kept sharing I Fucking Love Science posts. My first thought was: really? Who would call themselves that? I don’t have much of an interest in dinosaurs and galaxies, but I was pretty interested in the choice of name – in much the same way that I’m interested in the grocery store named Overwaitea (pronounced overweighty). I was interested in the how-does-this-work-anyway way.

Obviously loving science with this kind of passion pays the bills. The zillion annoying ads on I Fucking Love Science’s website tell me so. Ads equal dollars; that’s good business, right? But I noticed something else. The site is called IFLS. Why? Does the owner, Elsie Andrew, now know how stupid it sounds when people come up to her and enthusiastically announce that they also fucking love science? Or is it because she teamed up with the digital end of the Science Channel? Maybe the Science Channel likes her numbers but not her name.

You have to ask yourself, who will you be doing business with now and later?

Another example (and there are oh so many) of profanity upfront and online is Broke Ass Stuart. He’s probably not broke anymore either as his site also has lots and lots of ads. Stuart uses bad words wherever he wants. They’re part of his shtick. But as my mother might have said, he can also write like a hot damn. The science person can’t.

Fuck is not a very precise word

It can be a noun, verb, adverb, adjective and it gets made into other words (like fuckwit). It can mean holy shit, no kidding, piss off, messed up, stupid, wow, and sometimes even be the word for sexual intercourse. When we say it, we use body language and a tone that tells the listener what we mean. You have to be an adept writer like Stuart to write those in. If not, you run the danger of sounding like a bunch of overgrown boys having some beers in the back shed.

No client has ever asked me to use the F word. Not my market. I was thinking it doesn’t even go with food when the producers of the TV show, F*ck, That’s Delicious said otherwise (though television isn’t ready for the word spelled out). Here’s me thinking the word delicious is enough to express total wonderfulness, but apparently it’s not good enough anymore. Not in a world where hyperbole reigns. But add fuck in front and wow, no ordinary delicious anymore. So, why do I feel I could be on a fishing trip with some morons? Is this what the producers want me to think? If you need a low benchmark for swearing in your business, this is a good one.

So then WTF?

Here’s proof that the F word can be well used in food biz writing. Krisztina Kun, a Vancouver designer once created an app called, WTF is this Vegetable? WTF is a little bit genteel as the acronym is meant to suggest confusion or surprise. If it were spelled it out the meaning of fuck could so easily move towards aggression. I’d rather be confused than mad about vegetables. And WTF doesn’t even sound stupid when someone’s mother (me?) uses it. Also, it looks way better than f*ck.

You already know this, but in case you were thinking you could increase your market share by sounding badass, it probably won’t work. Unless you already are badass. Otherwise, you’ll just end up sounding stupid and wrong like I do when I use the word, badass. Also swearing on the page ages about as well as a tattoo. It gets all flabby and looses its colour. You want this for your business?