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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Profanity in blogging: "Sh*t My Dad Says" and "F My Life"




Pain and profanity can be very funny.  What may start out as simply distressing can often be turned into humor as a way to relieve tension.  Thanks to the web, pain is now viral.  Two examples of websites using pain and profanity to create a market for their amusing stories are "Sh*t My Dad Says" and "F My Life."

Sh*t My Dad SaysSh*t My Dad Says is a Twitter feed based on author Justin Halpern's musings from his endearingly profane father.  While his dad swears in most of the quotes, he also shows genuine concern for his son.  Here are some of his words of wisdom:

"Don't focus on the one guy who hates you. You don't go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog shit."

"YOU, a published writer?..Internet don't count. Any asshole can throw shit up on there."

"Pressure? Get married when you want. Your wedding's just one more day in my life I can't wear sweat pants."

Justin started posting these witticisms after his girlfriend dumped him and he moved back in with his parents at age 28.  He writes in the book, "The more time I spent with my dad in those first couple of months back home, the more grateful I started to feel for the mixture of honesty and insanity that characterized his comments and personality."  Clearly, the honesty appealed to his readers as well - his twitter feed currently has over two million followers and his book went on to become a #1 New York Times bestseller.  The reader's disbelief at the level of sincerity in the relationship between father and son makes the stories so compelling and brutally funny.

F My LifeF My Life is a blog fueled by authentic stories of misery submitted by users.  All posts start with "Today" and end with "FML," and generally remain only a few sentences long.  The following posts from the website are about unbelievable circumstances:

"Today, while at the Golden Gate Bridge, I spotted a large group of Asians trying to take a picture. Trying to be a diplomat, I slowly say "You... want me... take picture?" while using hand motions. The man looks at me and says 'No thanks asshole, I got it,' in plain English. FML"

"Today, I was at McDonald's and I was going through the drive-thru. As I was driving away, I checked my food and the lady had given me a Night at the Museum Happy Meal toy by mistake. I got so excited that I crashed the car into a pole.  I'm 36. FML"

"Today, I went out with my family and boyfriend for dinner. We were all having a good time, and suddenly at the end of dinner he decides to kneel down on one knee, take out an engagement ring, and say 'I choose you, Pikachu,' with a straight face. He was serious.  FML"

The FML website explains: "This is a space where you can let it all out and unwind by sharing the little things that screw with your day, and maybe realize that you are not alone in experiencing day-to-day crap.  There now, don't you feel better?"  As you can see, the creators of the website are not telling users to use profanity just for the sake of cursing.  Instead, they created a safe space to share your story with a group of equally pain-riddled listeners and find comfort in shared experiences.

Readers would probably not follow websites entitled "Stuff My Dad Has Mentioned" or "My Life Kind of Sucked Today."  Authors often use extreme language to make stories more honest and intense.  The writing will not appeal to everyone and censorship works to lessen the raw emotion conveyed by severe speech.  However, when the stories genuinely work to relieve tension instead of create it, I find it hard to argue with the use of any particular words.



Now, if you're worried about your children repeating upsetting curse words found online, perhaps you can take the advice given in this YouTube video:


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