It’s interesting, if not particularly instructive, to look at this map of Twitter profanity, showing, ostensibly, where in America you’ll find the foulest-mouth tweeters. Cartographer Daniel Huffman took tweets using profanity from March 9th through April 12th, mapped them out, and the result is this 12 MB PDF map. (It’s hard to read in the smaller form; you might find it easier to get the big version and zoom in)
Lighter shades are swearier, so big cities tend to have more profanity. But the southeast — the Bible Belt! — seems to need its collective mouth washed out with soap, while the plains and mountains are less profane, maybe because the population isn’t as dense (in the literal sense, not that they’re stupid or… oh, you know what I mean).
The map was done for the cover of a cartography journal, and it wasn’t strictly scientific. It’s all for sh-ts and giggles, really, and… wait, see what I did there? That’s a habit I’ve developed over the years. I admit to swearing like anyone else (I’m a Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies fan, so it’s a given), and I’m not a prude at all (I’m pretty much a free speech anything-goes they’re-just-words guy). But I tend not to swear much, in public or private, and when I write, I try to avoid swearing, period. I don’t use “those words” in tweets or on my blog or here, with rare exceptions, yet I don’t mind when others do. And when I have to use a profanity, because I’m used to writing for sites where I have to keep it PG, I instinctively replace a letter or two with hyphens. It’s silly, of course — even a five year old knows what the words really are — but it’s so ingrained that I can’t help it.
How about you? When you post something on Twitter or Facebook or a blog, do you think about that? Do you hesitate to drop the F-bomb? Why? Do you think mom and dad might see it? Are you concerned that potential employers will think less kindly of you? Are you a prim Victorian transplanted to 2011?
Let’s put it this way — did you contribute to the lighter shades on that map? Comments welcome below, profane or clean, but try and keep these clean. I have delicate sensibilities.