For those feeling that for the period of Lent they should abstain from something that they really enjoy, but can't bear the thought of not drinking alcohol, eating chocolate or committing serial adultery, I have a suggestion. Give up swearing on Twitter. Please.
Now I'm not averse to the odd swear myself, as friends and family will confirm, but in my defence I would say two things. Firstly, I only do so in some sort of extremis, such as hurting myself, burning my food or hearing the latest inane pronouncement from Michael Gove. Secondly, I know my audience and, with the odd exception, am careful not to use foul language when in the company of people I know will be offended by it or who may copy it unknowingly. Pas devant les enfants, as they probably say at Downton. Or the servants, naturally.
Yet there are those on Twitter - I don't see it on Facebook but it may be there - who seem to think that no tweet is complete without some sort of profanity in it. It's never just raining, it's always f***ing raining. People they don't like are never fools or idiots, they are ... well you get the idea. Insert your swear-word of choice.
Now it's not that I find swearing in itself offensive: that would be hypocritical, although there are certain words I never use because they do offend me . However, I do think there's a time and a place for it. It should be reserved for those moments when no other word in what is one of the most comprehensive languages in the world will quite express what you mean and a setting where you are confident that you won't upset people who, presumably, you have no wish to upset.
Swearing is lazy. It says "there's probably a better word to describe exactly what I mean but I can't be bothered to use or find it."
Also, if four letter words populate your sentences when you are just discussing the weather, your job, or your evening meal, what expletives do you reach for when things are going really badly, when you fall on your backside in the snow or when the Government is about to sell the NHS off to the highest bidder?
You have only to stand close to a group of young people - whether or not they wear a hood - to hear a constant stream of bad language which most of us find objectionable. How much more witty and intelligent they would sound if they bothered to learn a few more adjectives. Oh, and a verb and adverb or two.
So here's your challenge. For the next six weeks or so, try to get through your interesting and amusing tweets without recourse to swearing. You won't be any the less funny or entertaining, and you might just gain a follower or two.