On the growing propensity for profanity among professional podcasters, I have these thoughts ~
I listen to a great number of podcasters. While I am driving, cooking, or walking; I am dialed in, listening to many motivating researchers. My favorite topics are nutrition science, strength/fitness, brain science, productivity, and human potential. If you are a podcast patron, then you might be able to guess some of the people to whom I lend an ear. They will remain unnamed in this essay, as I have no desire to throw anyone under a bus.
I like to listen to smart people. I like to ingest complex thoughts and original thoughts, especially ones which are artfully presented. It is rejuvenating. It is remarkably educational. If someone introduces a new idea on one of my favorite topics, I can almost feel my brain expand. It is wonderful, really.
The problem I have run into lately is the increasing use of profanity from my favorite podcasters. I hate to sound like an old coot, but I don’t get it. It adds no value whatsoever to their overall presentation. In fact, it cheapens the message. Limiting words equal limiting thoughts, and four-letter words are dramatically limiting. Moreover, they sideline quality thinking. Four-letter words are the equivalent of air-horns in the middle of a symphony. Distracting. Obnoxious. And, yes, uncivilized. Peppering insightful propositions with foul language sullies the entire offering. Why do they do it?
I do not want to sound judge-y. I am not a stranger to swearing. My husband and children will attest to the fact that every once in a while, I succumb, and out of my mouth flies a nasty word. Not often, ok, but like everyone else, I have my moments. But, that is what these should be – rare moments. Sometimes life throws us a serious problem, a painful curve ball, and on those rare occasions everyone can excuse a slip – maybe even appreciate it. Sometimes, when we reach the end of ourselves and are in a grave, apoplectic state, the only thing left to do is belch up a four-letter word. In these rare moments, it actually seems to have some cathartic value. But, when every other sentence has an f-bomb? Well, frankly it is boring. It simply cannot be necessary and the speaker must know that it potentially offends (therefore, evidently, the speaker must not care), and it limits the audience – people will tune out.
Constant swearing tells me that this speaker has limited access to words which would adequately express the emphasis he seeks. Limited vocabulary is something I would rather not associate with my favorite podcasters. Finding just the right words, just the right metaphors, just the right examples - is something listeners deeply appreciate. It is harder. It is the high road. I think that professional podcasters ought to work a little harder to find more inventive ways, using the tools of their trade (good words!), to drive home their central message. I do notice that when they are speaking on behalf of the advertisers on whose income they rely, they never swear. When selling some new brand of tea or coffee or exercise gimmick or educational supplement, they sound different. They provide good details, examples of how these things have worked for them or others, and they do not swear. Frankly, a professional who is in the business of selling – and I don’t care what you are selling – ought not to swear. Period.
Podcasters, hear this: You are listened to and admired by thousands of people, many of them young and still impressionable. If they hear you debase your own speech with ugly idioms maybe this is what they will try to do …. on an interview or at a dinner party. Bad idea. You do have a responsibility to your listening public. Why not help civilization raise the bar? Why not stay on the high road when you are speaking to thousands and thousands every day? Choose to do what is harder - find the right words to communicate your important ideas. Turn away from the easier, lazier thing - end the constant cussing. If you are going for that cool, informal sound of youth, then I think you need to come to terms with the fact that the great majority of you are not 21, and your young listeners know this. Please do not sink to the depths of a bloviator from a barstool.