The "Please Do Not Swear on My Profile Thanks" meme going viral on Facebook, explained
Please do not swear on my profile. Thanks.
Swearing online may be one of the simplest joys in life. The president tweeted something you don't like? Monday going badly for you? The person you hate-follow on Instagram is taking another Caribbean vacation? You know exactly what to call him, what to yell and what to comment.
But take a moment, now, to imagine a world where none of that is possible.
Above we see a photo filter that's currently conquering Facebook. You'll notice that it politely requests an immediate cessation of all swearing on the user's profile. This is, by its nature, an impossible ask; no group of individuals on the internet can be relied upon to self-police their most vulgar instincts, as YouTube comments have repeatedly shown. Swears are unavoidable.
"Please do not swear on my profile thanks": What does it mean?
"Please do not swear on my profile thanks," then, can be read as simple irony, because posting such a message does nothing but invite a stream of verbal abuse from the first troll who reads it. The phrase also serves as a subtle indictment of the web's "normie" crowd — you know, the average folks who talk about yoga or Jesus in their Twitter bio and only just learned what a meme is. These are the same people who have such a meager understanding of social media they believe they can set the rules of engagement there. Hence, a misguided, doomed appeal to strangers to watch their language.
"Please do not swear on my profile thanks": Where did the meme come from?
The filter itself was crafted with Facebook's Camera Effects tool by a 23-year-old Londoner who identified himself to BuzzFeed as "Jack Salamanders" — a gamer, YouTuber and "meme artisan," according to his relatively new Facebook page, Senate Salamander. He's developed a ton of these meme filters, he said, based on the aesthetic known as "shitposting," but many are still awaiting approval, and none of the others have gone viral ... yet.
Salamanders said he was inspired by a Family Guy meme (of Peter Griffin's body with neighbor Joe Swanson's head) bearing the "please don't swear" credo. That image appeared on the Instagram account @croissant_memes_for_sale about a month ago. Know Your Meme points out, however, that an image macro of an angry teen that featured the same basic message first surfaced in late January. It's likely the concept is even older.
"Please do not swear on my profile thanks": Why it's going viral
No matter where on the web it first surfaced, or when, the sentiment is clearly timeless. There will always be scolds and prudes who want to maintain the kind of public decorum the rest of us seem determined to puncture. By adopting this censorious attitude, we mock the morals of those who preach it in earnest.
By adopting this censorious attitude, we mock the morals of those who preach it in earnest.
Even after a serious talk with your school principal, disappointed parents or human resources representative — some of the few scenarios where a plea for more refined word choice might have the intended effect — one cannot halt the accumulation of filthy slang and epithets in this world.
In fact, addressing the issue often just makes it worse.
Yet even against this pushback — and those who say the joke wasn't funny to begin with — irony-addled shitposters will continue in their quest to cleanse and control their own sacred domain. To keep their profiles pure. To stand resolute in countering any uncouth content. They believe in something better.
Sure, it's a losing battle. Doesn't mean it's not worth the fight.