In the fall of 2017 I joined with some other community members to put on a production of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Amateur theatre you understand; something I’ve done in neighbouring communities with several theatrical groups for some 25 years.
More and more often, the cast stays in communication with each other via social media, with the Directors typically setting up a private Facebook group and inviting all the members to join to be kept up-to-date with rehearsals and other related information. This then sparks a number of people to then go ahead and send out friend requests to other cast members. It’s likely that even if you are not involved in a community theatre group, you’ve had a similar experience perhaps with some other group centred around your hobbies or interests.
Now with us being in the middle of winter and 2018, the show is long over and yet the online friendships remain. Sometimes I’ve gone ahead and deleted people immediately who I will have no further interaction with unless a future show brings us together again. This time around however, I let things remain largely unchanged after the show and of consequence I’m ‘friends’ with people I wouldn’t really give that title to in any other context – referring to them more commonly as an acquaintance.
I’ve got a problem though. It’s easily remedied on my end, but I fear it’s damaging for another. The issue as the title suggests is this person’s frequent use of swearing in his posts. It’s, ‘f’ this and ‘f’ that, and ‘f-ing’ something else…
The easy thing to do is unfriend the person, who quite honestly I’d never met before and am not likely to act with again but yes, it is conceivable. He’s not quite 20, I’m 58, he’s in another city than I am, and I’m not so unsure of my self that I have a problem just doing so.
Yet, there’s part of me that wanted to reach out to him and if he’s open to hearing it, let him know that I find his choice to include such language offensive. Not only is this my point of view, he could well be hurting his future chances of employment; acting or otherwise, by his frequent use of such language. Call me a prude if you will, old-fashioned, etc. I really don’t mind. I know what I enjoy reading and what I don’t.
Now it’s his right as it is anyone’s right, to speak ones mind, and part of that freedom comes with the right to say it HOW you’d like to do so. But, there are consequences to our choices, and there’s a responsibility that comes with those same rights. Not everybody gets this. Seems to me a lot of people go about claiming they know their rights, but few go about toting that they know their responsibilities.
In any event, I opted this time to do something different; I’ve taken the approach of reaching out to him via a private message and let him know how his frequent use of foul language has our tenuous friendship at risk of being ‘unfriended’ on Facebook. I’ve also advised him if he’s open to hearing it, that his posts are there in the public domain for future employers, Directors etc. to read and in so doing, form their opinions of him as suitable for their places of employment or shows.
No I’m not trying to be more saintly, or holier than thou as it were. I’m simply taking a more caring way of helping him along and not the easy way out of just unfriending him with no explanation. I’m sure this happens all the time and I’ve done it myself. Maybe this once though, something good could come of it. Even if he chooses to ignore my suggestion or advice, he is at least aware of the impact his writing has on one person and that alone could be helpful.
You see, he’s young, troubled, and – well yes – overly dramatic. However, being a young under 20, it’s not uncommon that one’s problems seem like the only problems in the universe. With maturity comes the realization that ones problems are not so unique, and everyone has things they deal with; some of us better or more privately than others. I hope he’ll get that over time and in fact I’m sure of it.
The thing I’d point out is would he, (or you) talk to your boss, your mom or dad, your friends etc. using the same language you use online? That is of course exactly what happens when all those people see what you write and how you choose to say it online. If you wouldn’t talk a certain way in-person, why talk that way online? If of course that’s who you are whether online or in-person, that’s your choice and your free to be authentically you. Just think about it.
So there it is. Feel free to give me your thoughts on the use or excessive use of swearing in social media public posts. Okay or not okay in your opinion? Helpful in expressing yourself or hurtful and self-damaging to getting on in the world? Feel free to agree or disagree as is of course your own right. This could be good people; where do you stand? Would you talk this way face-to-face with your friends; with your boss?