Despite popular belief, I do have control over my use of the 'F' word.
Most people wouldn’t know it because they have this assumption that I always shoot from the hip and don’t censor myself. Like I just talk and don’t think about what I’m saying. While sometimes this is true - especially in person - it’s rare that I’m unconscious of what I’m saying through my writing.
This is part of the reason it was slightly irritating to me when two people in one week ‘cautioned’ me on my use of the ‘F’ word while expressing myself online.
They were particularly worried about how I would be perceived as a mom by the ‘wrong’ people. They had my best interests in mind. I totally get that and am thankful for the people in my life who want to look out for me and keep me from the ‘wrong’ people. But I also felt a little bit misunderstood. Like, Come on. Don’t you think I’ve considered these types of things? But maybe they didn’t think that. Maybe I do come across so brash in person that they couldn’t comfortably make the assumption that I would be thinking of what I say and how I say it. The thing is my use is intentional in my writing and on social media.
I’m creating an author persona for myself. And that author persona is a put-it-out-there, let’s-be-honest, I-love-the-f-word person. It’s a part of my branding.
Like a comedian has a stage personality or a magician has purposeful ways of making you see what they want you to see. In other words, it’s all a part of the show. I know this. I know this is my plan, so to speak. But others don’t. They are just consuming what I’m putting out there. They aren't thinking about the real woman behind the curtain.
People who don’t know me might ‘eat it up’ and love it. Become followers. Become readers. And this is what I want and what I need. I need people to like what I’m putting out there and to get what they can (fans). This is a part of my building a readership which agents want to see. The people who do really know me may fall into that camp (becoming a fan) or they might fall into one of these others:
1) people who are reading and following but ultimately are concerned. Concerned about how I’m being perceived because they know me and love me as “me” and don’t want harm to come to me in the rest of my life. They are more family/friends than they are fans. (also know known as, fam-friends);
2) people who could give two shits about any part of my life and hate everything I’m doing, everything I stand for, and everything I say. These folks want to create disorder or destruction for me (identified above as the ‘wrong people’ or also known as faux).
Thing is, I don’t have any control over any of these folks: fans, fam-friends, or faux. (Note that all of these classes of folks also start with ‘F’ and not a single one of them did I identify as a fucker.) Only thing I can do is decide how I behave. The only person I have control over is me. With or without my use of the ‘F’ word, I still have no control over others' perceptions of me. People will still fall into one of the three camps. Hopefully more the first two then the last.
However, I’m a recovering people pleaser. Consequently, it was difficult when I heard the same two cautions in the same week. A part of me wanted to just nod and say, Okay, I’ll change because you both warned me about the ‘wrong’ people and therefore I must be doing something wrong. I had to fight every automatic urge to just cease doing my thing because I discovered it may be rubbing people the wrong way. The art of untraining the people-pleasing part of my brain has taken diligence and effort.
I consider it a success that I didn’t say to either of these people that I would change my behavior (i.e. use of the ‘F’ word). I did say that I would think about their warnings.
To me, this was a happy, reasonable, and mature middle-ground. I hear and appreciate what you’re saying, and I will think about it, but I’m not automatically going to change because you said something. This is my choice. So here is me thinking about 'it.' I’m thinking about my use of the ‘F’ word and about what my own boundaries are in using this word, not just online but generally. I’m putting it in writing so folks can hold me to it. Truthfully, this is a fine list and one that I think others should commit to memory.
Rules of the ‘F’ Word: Guidelines for Acceptable Use in Everyday Life
- Don’t use it in front of your children in any scenario (regardless if it is warranted) unless they are old enough to handle this word responsibly.
- Avoid using it in front of other people’s children.
- Probably don’t use it in children’s books.
Exception: you’re writing a satirical, humorous picture book for adults that resembles a children’s book, such as “Go the Fuck to Sleep.”
- Just keep it away from children altogether. It may spread like a bad disease. Especially if they are in the “parroting” stage of development and just go around saying “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck”
- Don’t say it at work.
Exception: you’re the boss and can say what you want.
- Avoid it with police officers. (I don’t have any real-life experience to base this but seems like common sense.)
- Refrain from use at church even if seeming to be appropriately contextualized, such as Oh My Fucking God (OMFG) or Jesus Fucking Christ.
- Don’t use it when talking about your SO, ex-SO, in-laws, extended family, or your children. (Really that just makes you look bad. Even if they are at fault for something and it would simply make you feel so much better to just drop that bomb.)
Exception: by yourself where no one can hear you scream, cuss and carry on is entirely acceptable and encouraged.
- Try not to pair it with insults in order to exact emphasis on just how [insert expletive] something they are, such as “Fucking idiot” or “Fucking moron."
Exception: see exception 8 above
- Other places it is not cool to use include: the library, restaurants, parent-teacher conferences, children’s birthday party, or in the home of the Waltons or Cleavers.
- In front of grandparents or other elderly folks should be prohibited.
Exception: they say it, too.
- While confronting a person much bigger than you who also has anger issues. (Again, don’t know, just making a really good educated guess.)
Exception: you’re with someone much bigger than them who isn’t afraid to get decked on your behalf.
- Keep the ‘F’ word decor and signage when decorating your home office, to a minimum and be prepared to answer the questions from your children when they are old enough to read.
- Tattoos should not include the ‘F’ word simply because that shit is permanent and maybe one day you’ll regret it (which seems to be a thing that happens with tattoos).
- Use it gently. The use of the ‘F’ word too frequently in a sentence or short space only distracts from the point you’re trying to make. Which makes others question your integrity, parenting, and whether you’re thinking about these things. This then convinces you to write a post about the appropriate use of the 'F' word just to prove to everyone you have integrity, you’re a good parent, and you are thinking about these things
Exception: when you really don’t fucking care what other people think, use the 'F' word as much as you fucking want.