I’ve been a part of the theoblogging world for several years now, but most of the time I tend to sit a bit on the periphery. One of the most interesting aspects of being a “lurker” is that you can observe how people debate without being in the heat of the blogging moment.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on the use of profanity in theoblogging debates. One aspect of the use of profanity is that it signals someone has decided to dispense with the niceties of academic discourse, roll up their sleeves, and really begin to debate the issue(s) zealously. This implies that one can see the inadequacies of academic protocals and is willing to step outside them in order to really “get serious” about the issue at hand. You know, because up to that point “serious” dialogue wasn’t occurring, and now the other parties are challenged to meet the swearer on his/her higher ground. This creates the image of the renegade academic blogger, who garners street cred by showing how they aren’t complete tools of academia by transcending it in the dropping of an f-bomb. In short, it becomes an academic pissing contest. This rhetorical maneuver unites theobloggers who often end up agreeing on nothing except that one displays their intellectual integrity by swearing.
In proper academic settings moving from academic protocals to swearing would smack of arrogance or immaturity, but interestingly in theoblogging this at times is implicitly understood as a virtue. There often seems to be a sort of latent conservatism behind cursing in theoblogging, akin to when conservative/fundamentalist preachers believe their willingness to “tell it like it is” should be worn like a badge of honor. The irony of course is that the only ones who wouldn’t appreciate this particular use of rhetoric are the champions of it, the aforementioned conservative/fundamentalists who also blog. So the renegade and the fundy are often two sides of the same coin.
I’m not inherently against the use of profanity in blogging, and I’m not a prude. Further, I’m sure that for some swearing serves no function other than honest expression of opinion. Lastly, I’m not arguing that there is no place for calling someone out. The only reason I question its utility in blogging is b/c it often seems to be nothing more than self-serving and a conversation stopper. That said, if you’ve got nothing left to say about someone’s opinion other than calling it bullshit, maybe it’s time to end the conversation anyway.