May 12th, 2014 by Bob Bly
One of the worst things about the Internet is the anonymity.
Reason: because anyone can post or e-mail without revealing
their identities or facing those they communicate with, people
on the Internet think they can say anything to anybody – and get
away with it.
A case in point: on a popular blog, a contributing author wrote
an otherwise excellent article about digital marketing in which
she said something she tried worked “like a mofo.”
I commented that, in my opinion, she should have communicated
her ideas without using an abbreviation for an obscenity.
I was widely attacked by the blog readers for being an old
fogey, conservative and out of touch with the time.
Incidentally, shortly after the incident, the blog suspended
comments. I do not think I am the cause.
Anyway, I was tempted to humorously reply “%&^(&* you” but
One of my critiques wrote: “Can’t believe you’re such a whiney
bitch on the blog post where the word ‘mofo’ is used.”
Maybe I am, but I was raised in a generation which, I believe,
had slightly better manners than the current one – though
perhaps I am delusional.
For instance, when I communicate with someone I do not know, I
don’t call them a bitch.
People love swearing and do it frequently, but they and I differ
on when and where cussing is appropriate.
I contend that in articles published online and offline on
business topics, it is completely unnecessary, and people do it
primarily to look cool and hip to their counterparts.
But by doing so, they turn off a large segment of their
readership, me included … mostly the 50 and over crowd.
If you are a marketer, I would warn you not to alienate
oldsters, as we control most of the money in the United States.
A survey reported on the Joshua Kennon web site found that
households where the head was age 35 and younger had a median
net worth of only $65,000.
By comparison, households where the head was 55 to 64 years old
had a median net worth of $880,000 – nearly 14X richer.
I have the same objection to gratuitous swearing in media other
than business blogs, by the way.
For instance, I find Chris Rock very funny. But his use of f–k
every other sentence is wearisome.
He may do it for effect, but listen to his CDs … they would be
just as funny without the F word, in my opinion: it adds nothing
to the humor.
I admit there are some comics who use occasional cursing to
good effect, George Carlin being one of them.
And I also admit the F word can enhance a character’s emotion in
certain tense movie scenes … though if he says it every 2
minutes, it again becomes tiresome.
But I believe swearing has no place in business or marketing
Of course, if you disagree, I suspect you will flip me off … and
keep on doing it.
Just remember: for every complaint you get, there are probably
dozens of readers who also don’t like it — but are not speaking
So the number of people you alienate may exceed the number of
those who think you are “with it” and groovy for cussing.