HELL NO I Won’t Censor My Blog

by Marian Schembari on July 15, 2010


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You’d think after my blog resulted in 24-hour detainment that I’d take a hard look at my content. I mean, if you’re Gen Y, you’ve heard this a thousand times: “Be careful what you put online. It’s there forever.” Yes. Thank you, Grandma.

Even if you’re not Gen Y though, you’ve heard horror stories of people putting things online and get fired/arrested/murdered in their sleep. A few months ago I came across this post on Lamebook:

My buddy Richie already tore this chick a new one, so I’ll refrain from spewing how UTTERLY STUPID this was. I’m sure the girl knows that already and the lessons are pretty obvious. Keep in mind that Google Alerts means  anything you write about a company will show up in their inbox and if you’re looking for a job, maybe don’t come across as completely unprofessional. Be smart, people.

I’m Still Effing Credible

Occasionally someone tells me to tone down my language because it “undercuts my credibility,” but  I feel like there are so many social media blogs, that’s it’s really a relationship to the blogger, that makes you stand out.

My new buddy and Pajama Job Hunter, John Patten, wrote this post, and while he wrote some AMAZING things about me, this is my (second) favorite bit:

I want to do business with people who have a sense of humor, a fun personality, AND who know their stuff.  You may be ranked #1 in your field, but if you’re as exciting as C-SPAN3, then I’m going to take a peek at the #2 and #3 person to see if there’s a pulse hidden in there among all the Excel spreadsheets.

I 100% agree with John, but also realize that not everyone likes my personality. I bet every day people read something of mine and immediately leave because they’re offended by my language or hate the way I write. But do you know what? That happens to EVERYONE. Every day I click out of blogs because I think they’re boring, redundant, or just don’t grab my attention. Every day we close our browsers because we don’t like something. We can’t please everyone so might as well be ourselves.

More on the Immigration Ordeal

During my detainment drama, a friend said, “This situation you’re in is the perfect example of why you need to pay better attention to what you write. If the immigration officers see you cursing, they might not be so eager to help.”

Really? Really? They’re deporting me because I drop the f-bomb occasionally?

I get where she’s coming from, I really do. So maybe it’s my youth or naivety, but if writing “fuck” acts as fodder for an immigration official to deport me, then, well, FUCK THAT.

Honestly, the effect of swearing is an interesting phenomenon. NPR recently wrote, “Using swear words at the right time can pack an ‘emotional wallop’ that ordinary words just don’t have.” Definitely, but why does doing it mean I’m also suddenly less credible? Why does my language have any bearing on whether or not I’m allowed in a country?

There’s a discussion going on at Brazen Careerist about blog language, and I’ve heard most of their arguments before. Apparently swearing:

  • Proves you have bad vocabulary. If you can only think of “crap” to describe your feelings, then you obviously haven’t mastered the English language.
  • Offends your readers. I’m sure it does, but I’ve got a potty mouth in real life so  I’m just being authentic. Why should I cater to you if you won’t like me in person anyway? Wondering why don’t I stop swearing all together? Come on guys, are you asking me to change my personality? Should we all just act the same because we don’t want to offend someone? Ugh, this argument is boring me now.

Censorship

This post isn’t just about swearing though, it’s about blog censorship in general. I write about my career, my personal life, my travels, my clients, along with general advice where I try to be useful. Together this makes for a blog that has gotten me far: I’ve made new friends, started a solo career, become more outgoing… If I were inauthentic and tried to please everyone I wouldn’t have the readership I do and I love each and every one of you for sticking with me.

My blog serves its purpose. If I were applying for a “real job” I would probably tone it down. If I weren’t trying to get clients I would probably up the ante. But right now my clients are amazingly fun people who have potty mouths themselves and are great to work with. When I meet readers in real life, you know what to expect. I’m passionate about what I do, enthusiastic, a little scrappy, honest as all hell, and will under no circumstances apologize for that. I would happily be appealing in Iceland right now otherwise.

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  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Haha, well, if I start saying “bloody wanker” on a regular basis, you all have my permission to boycott my blog.

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Yay! I like gut reactions and concentrated versions of posts!

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    It totally is! And I love what you say about a screening process. My job would be way less fun if I worked with authors who were all generic copies of each other. And to be perfectly honest, most authors I come across are a little eccentric, meaning the species in general is more geared towards my personality ;-)

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Thanks so much, Cassie, you're such a peach! And sounds like you've got some entertaining clients, yourself… lucky girl!

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    FUCK is a very powerful word and definitely suits certain situations more than others. I hear you on the rant aspect though. I definitely do tend to swear more when I'm angry or annoyed or frustrated with something. Which, to be perfectly honest is most of the time ;-)

  • http://www.domesticsluttery.com Siany

    Hehe! I'm going to make you say that over tea.

  • dianeshipley

    Hee. It always makes me laugh that primetime US TV can (or has in the past, anyway) got away with “bollocks”, “wanker” and “shagging”, which our pre-watershed TV would never get away with. Foil those censors, I say! ;)

  • http://twitter.com/kemari/status/18642567853 Kemari

    RT @marianschembari: Some *serious* discussion going on in the comments of my post: HELL NO I Won't Censor My Blog http://bit.ly/dpG9V8

  • http://twitter.com/koalainscotland Laura Anne

    love this post!

  • http://www.bloggingfor.info/ Thu Nguyen

    I recently wrote a post about becoming more open and it just so happens you've mentioned authenticity as becoming part of that bunch. It's true. The more profound you become the more they'll hear you. From there on it's noise but at least it's your own.

  • http://twitter.com/mybookfetish Ashley Williams

    I applaud you for not censoring your blog. I'm not quite there yet- although I'm trying to be.

    My twitter and blog are completely separate from my work. I have nothing on them indicating the company that I work for, and I don't knowingly interact with anyone from my circle of clients. I never talk about work in any social media, except to say something positive. All that to say, my twitter and blog are for my personal use. While I keep work separate, I do realize that when people follow me or read the blog, they are absorbing what I say, dissecting it, and forming opinions about me. I also realize that since I don't know all of these people, there could be unintentional effects from someone reading what I post. Which makes me a bit afraid to be completely honest in the blog or twitter. I'm working on that. I'd like to have a true “screw the rules” mentality . I applaud you for doing it. It takes courage to be completely who your are and deal with whatever the fallout may be. Your authenticity shines through. And a well placed “Fuck” can be quite powerful. Cheers to you for not censoring yourself.

  • Amber

    I read the whole saga of your detainment, and I can't believe that happened! I know the airport folk in Edinburgh and London were a little unforgiving when I studied there, but luckily studying abroad gives you lots of paperwork to prove your purpose. I can't believe it's been suggested that you censor your blog- I enjoy your perspective and I don't see how a few choice words make you deportable… unless of course those few choice words include bombing, terrorist, or anthrax.

  • Your face

    My reaction to @marianschembari's blog post, HELL NO I Won't Censor My Blog? FUCK YES. http://bit.ly/bXY27P

  • http://twitter.com/RebeccaAWatson Rebecca Watson

    Good for you. In this humble writer's opinion, swearing is *part* of a good vocabulary!

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Hahaha, way to totally crack me up, Amber. Thanks!

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    I often forget that so many more people use social media for personal reasons – I'm a bit of a workaholic and have a hard time separating how I use things for my personal and work lives. That's also why Facebook is the one outlet I keep private ;-) That all said, you make some really great points, Ashley, thanks so much for contributing!

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Oooh, great last line there, Thu! “It's noise but at least it's your own.” LOVE. IT.

  • Sue Waters

    Well this is an interesting one for me in a number of ways :)

    Do I agree with you in terms of authenticity and transparency? No :)

    I look at it as no different from face-to-face interactions. There are things you will discuss and say in front of a small group of people that you won't say standing up in front of 1000 people. We all do it and it doesn't make us inauthentic or non-transparent.

    The key for a blogger is to make their own decisions as to what is appropriate/inappropriate for them, what they will or want blog about and remember that “online is forever' (yes I'm chuckling while writing that :) ).

    Unfortunately people do regret what they have said or done online. I get enough emails from people asking me to delete their blogs so they are removed from searches because they have erred in judgment. And being the person that has to tell them to the good news about Google and how it caches web sites — isn't a fun part of my work.

    But I do agree that it's a blogger's own choice what they are like online, it is an important part of building relationships with readers and makes them stand out from others.

  • http://leemar.wordpress.com/ Anna Marie

    I use my parents as a gauge for what I post online. I'm sure people have lots of different relationships with their parents, but I only post things I am comfortable with them reading. So far, so good!

  • http://twitter.com/shannonevans/status/18894042856 shannonevans

    RT @marianschembari: HELL NO I Won't Censor My Blog http://bit.ly/dpG9V8

  • UW-Platteville

    # UWP part of alumni tent tradition at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days – stop by tomorrow through Thursday! http://bit.ly/bXY27P

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  • http://higheredcareercoach.com/ Sean Cook

    Marian,

    Please do not censor your blog. I'm often accused of being cranky and at least slightly inappropriate myself, and some people have gone out of their way to let me know they don't care for me and my style of doing things. Those who do, however, get what they came for, and usually a whole lot more. The value a coach or consultant provides comes in the relationship and the relationship won't be real unless you are. Keep being yourself. And while you're at it, tell me how to be less boring. I think you're good at that. I will not, however, be seeking advice on immigration and international travel from you. I trust you'll understand. I can imagine no greater circle of hell than a British detention facility with generic chips.

  • http://www.stagweekends.co.uk/ stag do

    Google is the canary in the mine, and should remind us that kowtowing to dictators inevitably leads to a diminution of our own freedoms. The thought that moral suasion will change the heart of a communist is proof of our own desperation and continued GREED for cheap labor and shoddy consumer goods.

  • http://thetsaritsasez.com/ Alexandra the Tsaritsa

    Censorship is fucking lame!

  • http://twitter.com/Yakezie The Yakezie

    I guess it all depends on what topic you’ll be writing about. At Yakezie.com we’ll be focusing largely on personal finance and lifestyle. So perhaps in the occasional lifestyle post, there will be a swear word or two, but it’s pretty clean otherwise. I guess I just don’t swear much in real life, so swearing is definitely not there when I’m writing b/c it takes a lot more thought writing than speaking.

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Yeah, I think it definitely depends on your audience the topics you write about it. I pretty much only swear in personal posts and ones where I’m ranting. If a swear or harsh comment isn’t necessary then there’s no need to include it. Nothing worse than swear words that have been just thrown in – they rarely make their desired effect that way!

  • http://twitter.com/melissabreau/status/24129362139 Melissa Breau

    @MarianSchembari or the "hell no i wont censor my blog" post (cc: @sparksmarks – http://ow.ly/2Cu51 )

  • http://twitter.com/dejakester/status/7148798010720256 Jake Beckman

    @kirstymhall RT @MarianSchembari 3 blogs about being detained in London http://bit.ly/hKTUrW http://bit.ly/dU3t5S http://bit.ly/clRMGc

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