When did swearing become cool?

Currently I am developing an app and have begun the process of building a business around it. So lately I have been watching and attending a lot of entrepreneurial Startup events and talks. Including pitching events, and Accelerator and Incubator demo days.

I have noticed that people are swearing a lot these days. Seems anyone that gets up on stage for some reason or another feels that it is ok to throw in a few profanities here and there. It can be an auditorium with 1,000 people or a small group session of only 5 people, it doesn’t matter, people are dropping f-bombs and s-bombs without even batting an eyelid.

Now I like to think I’m just as cool as the next guy, but when I hear someone swear in a professional setting it really irks me. Is this a sign I’m getting old? hahaha, perhaps. But seriously, swearing amongst your mates at the pub is one thing, but swearing in a professional setting, while on stage, in front of 1,000 guests, and in front of 10,000 online viewers, in my book is a no-no. And you know, it’s not just me, because you can actually feel the awkwardness in the air when somebody swears. People half laugh because they get the point, but don’t necessarily agree with the method. This at least tells me I’m not alone.

So I’m wondering, when did swearing become “cool”? When did swearing get the thumbs up?

I have a theory, and it starts back in high school.

In high school we had groups that naturally formed for various reasons, be it ethnicity related, sporting prowess related, intelligence related (I’ll call this the “nerd group”), home address related, whatever (Check out The Breakfast Club, or any other high school movie ever made, if you’re not sure what I mean). What I noticed from the nerd group was that every now and then they would do things to mimic other “cooler” groups (note: it wasn’t cool to be in the nerd group back in the day). One of the things the “cool” group did was swear here and there. Swearing was the rebellious equivalent of smoking. You couldn’t very well light up a cigarette on the playground, but swearing could be slipped in whenever teachers weren’t around no problem.

So, the “cool” groups did rebellious things like swear. Therefore groups that wanted to be seen as “cool”, such as the nerd group, followed suit and they too would swear from time to time. The problem with the nerd group is that their social skills are not the best. Swearing, like jokes, depend heavily on the delivery, and nerds just don’t, or didn’t, have it (yes, I am generalising like a mother fucker here, don’t take it personally). The awkwardness of delivering an ill-timed f-bomb just screams “not cool man!”, and leaves a thick layer of unease in the air.

Fast forward to 2015. Now it’s cool to be a nerd. Nerds are doing amazing things, creating fantastic businesses, and making a hell of a lot of money doing so (who’s laughing now?). Nerds are everywhere. Nerds are the new role models. People pay money to hear nerds talk about how they made it, and what they can do to make it too. This is all great stuff, but they brought with them one thing they didn’t need to, swearing. And now that they are the “cool” group, their behaviour, both the good parts and the bad parts, are propagating through the other groups. It’s a never ending cycle.

Nerds need to realise that swearing was never cool, and it’ not doing them any favours now. Nerds need to realise that what they are doing in business and in life, that is what’s cool. It’s not just cool, it’s freakin awesome!

There is no need for swearing period.

If you are ever unsure as to whether or not you should swear, he’s a little tip to help you along: pretend your grandmother is in the front row, you can see her, and she can see you….now ask yourself, should I swear…


Now excuse me while I look for my Rubik’s speed cube…



– It would be interesting to conduct a survey at the end of a startup event where we pose the question “is swearing cool?”
(Any event people who would like assist me in running such a survey, please contact me;    info@citizenrod.com      @citizenrod)

– Groups are facinating, studying high school groups and prison groups could reveal some interesting correlating data

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