Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Swear Jar Would Bankrupt Me

OK...maybe that title is a bit of a stretch because I don't actually go around the house swearing non-stop or anything.... BUT...I certainly have lowered my standards as far as NEVER saying bad words to being very liberal in both thought and deed. 

I don't think I am alone in my increasing liberal attitude toward swearing.  As a culture that first heard the F word used in a mainstream movie in 1971 (M.A.S.H.) we have progressed (maybe progress isn't the right term) to the current likelihood of watching any cable television show that has at least one "four letter" word inserted pretty much in every sentence. It appears that the general public has collectively become more tolerant of naughty words.

So, while I don't presently have a swear jar, if my attitude keeps on it's current trajectory from tentative tolerance to active acceptance, and now heading into the realm of enthusiastic might say the future is going to require some measure of self-control on my part.

As I see it, this propensity of mine for getting more comfortable with being a potty mouth might, in fact, require a swear jar. With my ever optimistic attitude, I can always tell myself that while my decorum is going downhill, it may in fact allow for a nice vacation sometime in my future.  OR... I could use my jar as a Christmas Club Account and have my holiday fully funded by Thanksgiving. (Given the fact, there is a major election between now and then, I really need to have a plethora of loose change around to fund my jar.)

If I am being honest, though...currently it's not so much as I SAY all that many bad words out loud as much as I think them.  My brain, it seems, is getting more and more short tempered on a myriad of subjects but my mouth seems to mostly remain aware of it's surroundings.  In most cases, as a matter of respect to those around me, I try not to appear as if I have Tourette Syndrome as this would be blatantly unfair to those that actually have that disorder. There is the nagging reality, that I should be able to control my language.

I will confess that the National Nightly News is just bringing the worst out in both my brain and my mouth.  Hardly an evening goes by without me hemorrhaging four letter words in retaliation for the idiocy of  our assorted leaders, or would-be-leaders, or people in leadership roles that can't lead....or just people in the news that generally piss me off.

Of course, I can, justify some of my brain's use of bad language.  I was recently reading a couple of book reviews.  !n Pr@ise *f Pr#fanity, by Michael Adams and What The F, What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains and Ourselves, by Benjamin K. Bergen. Both authors seem to be very "pro obscenity".  After reading excerpts from both books, I am (according to them) doing my body a real service by swearing.  Of course, it really doesn't address the "thinking" bad words versus "saying" bad words but I am prepared to take any and all of the perceived positive effects and call it good. Both authors point out the cathartic nature of swearing, so I am, in essence, by swearing striving for total calm in my life.  
I am sure you have heard people say that swearing is the lowest form of communication and only those with limited vocabulary feel compelled to use foul language. I believe neither of those statements to be true. (My brain just said, "F*** them.")  I believe the real reason that swearing became popular was while there is an unlimited supply of words to convey information, there needed to be words that would convey EMOTION.  Of course, that doesn't necessarily hold true in today's use of swear words.  Now it seems we swear just...well...just because mostly everybody does.  A lot of once taboo words have become "conversational" as opposed to "controversial".  Really...when you think about it...a word is only considered bad if the person hearing it, is offended by it.  SO...if I swear with words you are comfortable with, we are just two people talking.  If I say words that offend you then you will deem me as "foul mouthed".  It boils down to everyone having to size up their audience.

Take for example:  Yesterday, I was having lunch with a good friend. My friend is  older than I am (I think she is in her late 70s)  and I have for the most part curbed my use of colorful language around her because I sensed that she wasn't the type of person that would be open to me or my brain tossing 4 letter words randomly into our conversations. As for this particular friend, she is very political which is tricky for me NOT to throw in a lot of obscene words while talking about either of the current candidates for President.

Anyway, my friend was telling me that she was having some problems with the new car that she bought about a week ago.  The car comes with a built in navigation system.  Upon driving the new car, she realized that the "GPS girl" wasn't talking so she called OnStar to find out if there was a setting to turn on the sound.  I gather that the OnStar person could do that from afar but the problem was that once it was turned on,  the "GPS girl" talks REALLY, REALLY loud and my friend couldn't figure out how to turn the volume down.  So she called back to get help in a hurry before her eardrums exploded.  After several minutes of trying to explain to the OnStar rep what the problem was she finally resorted to saying, "Can you get this bitch in the box to shut the hell up?"

If you think about it, (and I am sure this is keeping you up at night) vulgar words always were comprised by four categories, A. Sexual activities or sexual organs B. Religious concepts C. Bodily Functions and D. Denigrating social or ethnic groups.  In many instances the words associated with the first 3 categories have been reduced to fairly commonplace while the 4th category has probably become even more offensive over time.  (Thankfully...we aren't heathens after least most of us.)

I did find a few interesting facts when I was reading  various articles about the evolution of swearing in preparation to this post.  That there was a time when swearing was a sign of social stature and power.  Makes sense that people in power positions can get by with being profane while lower classes or people in vulnerable positions have to mind their p's and q's.  Take for example:  I doubt that any of King Henry VIII's wives told him to F*** off but he probably deserved that and worse.  (I assume this is the case for at least for Catherine, Jane, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine got to keep their heads...intact.)
Henry the VIII deserved some outbursts but perhaps didn't get them.

So, do YOU ever swear?  Are you more tolerant of others that do, as it becomes more prevalent in our society?

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