It’s like getting poked in the eye as I scroll through my the Medium Daily Digest.
Blam! There’s another “Shit.”
Doink! “There’s “Fucking” again.
I’m not prude. Profanity doesn’t offend me. I’ll use both of these words today. But it won’t be in a headline.
Hey, pay attention!
“Shit” or “Fucking” captures your attention. It sure captures my attention. If you put it in a headline, I assume you have something important to say.
Alas, it turns out you are just regurgitating a tired subject. You punctuated your headline with profanity because it extracted your signal from the noise.
You just shot your wad and I hope you got something out of it. I won’t fall for it a second time. Profanity is not a cure for mundaneness.
I’ll say it again. I have no issue with the use of profanity when it’s appropriate. When is that?
Guy Kawasaki summed it up best in his book Enchantment. In Chapter 2, he writes that you can achieve likability by swearing. But, then he clarifies what he means. He observes that, “…when used regularly, profanity loses its effectiveness.”
I’ve seen a growing stream of “Shit” and Fucking” show up in my Medium Daily Digest emails. Is this a reflection of Medium?
Hardly. Medium is currently the hot spot for anyone who wants to get their writing in front of a lot of people. The website’s About page describes it as “a place where everyone has a story to share…” and assures you that it “sifts the best of these for you and delivers them directly onto your home page.”
Last month, that was almost 63 million visits.
You might need some help to amplify your signal through that noise. “Shit” or “Fucking” could help you there. Especially if you don’t have anything new or interesting to say. You need all the help you can get.
Profanity in your headlines to grow readership isn’t a sustainable marketing strategy. As Guy Kawasaki says, “Swearing is bullsh*t.” I agree with him – especially when he adds that, “Profanity is a sign that you’re inarticulate, if not clueless, so rarely use it…”
(To be clear, Guy Kawasaki made these last two remarks in reference to social media. Feel free to fling poop at me if you fail to see the relevance.)
Pump up the volume
We all want what we write to resonate. We want it read by everyone. As many people as possible. “Shit” and “Fucking” turns up the volume on your megaphone. But how many readers will tune you out forever when they discover that you tricked them with some psychological napalm?
You’ll see me put “Shit” or “Fucking” in a headline about as often as you see Halley’s Comet in the night sky.
I’m not offended by your use of profanity in headlines, but I do find it offensive. It’s gratuitous. It’s stopped being novel. It’s fast becoming just another flavor of noise.
So sayeth the StickMonkey.