Practicum: Profanely Profound
A teacher once told us, “Your strength is also your weakness.” Meaning, if you focus too heavily on a single aspect of your development, you’ll neglect all others to your detriment (big and strong becomes slow and inflexible, etc.).
Back when GFDA was nothing but a smart-ass, text based website that we built in our spare time, we used profanity solely to get people’s attention. And it worked. Really well. We received millions of unique visits to our site in the first few weeks after doing more-or-less nothing to promote it. The influence that profanity had on that initial popularity is unquestionable. People fucking loved the word, “fucking.”
Since the very beginning of our expletive exploits, detractors at every strata of professional experience and personal connection to us have exclaimed with a sometimes evangelical fervor that we’ve degraded not only our industry but also ourselves, and that nearly everything we’ve done has been done wrong. The latter point not being too far from the truth, as having our brand so saturated with swear words is definitely a major handicap. We can’t advertise anywhere, or promote our content on social media platforms. Facebook, in fact, places us in the same technical category as hate speech (It’s true). It was our choice to play the fuck card, however, so we have to accept those consequences.
Often our clients will lament, “Too bad we can’t just put ‘fucking’ in it like you guys and get a million likes!” Or collaborators, who have more freedom with the f-word, will attempt to inject it into random phrases and call it a day. We see unaffiliated content creators employ that same thinking in crafting their messages. We also get ripped off a lot. Not to toot our own fucking horn, but none of these approaches ever seem to gain the same traction that our work has, and they typically don’t last long.
As time has passed, the role that profanity plays in our brand has — bare with us — matured. Capturing your attention is only a brief, superficial aspect of our mission. We’re challenging more than your good taste; we’re also questioning your intellectual ideals. Our approach is formed from encounters with mentors who broke down our own perspectives; on decades of studying design, education, literature, martial arts, and human nature; and on our own epic and tumultuous journey of trying and failing, and not giving up. It’s our genuine intent to distill meaning from our experiences and observations and communicate it to you in a usable form. If one of our messages ever comes close to being profound, we hope that the unvarnished effect of our use of profanity will not only make that message more accessible to you, but also more poignant.
Authored by Jason Richburg
GFDA Copywriter and Curriculum Director