Saturday, May 26, 2012

You son of a gun!

In my teens, I had made myself a promise that I wasn't going to use swear words as a part of my vocabulary.  I remembered thinking that it dulled my senses, made me feel badly, and that it might appear to others that I didn't have the expansive vocabulary to properly express myself (which- lets face it- if you know me...I never have a shortage of words to use).  I kept that promise....until recently.

In the last year or so, I have found that when listening to people around me, it becomes difficult to shun those words from my mind...and once they're in your mind, it's not a far travel to your mouth.  My mom and dad used swear words when I was growing up- I never thought they didn't know how to communicate, this was just common place...but the bottom line is that your children will do what you do, not what you say.

My husband recently expressed (again) that he preferred I use my love of words to express my feelings, without using profanity.  I think that was a pivotal moment for me- I realized that no matter how justified I felt at the time, it made others around me (or had the potential of making others around me) uncomfortable.

I don't think this has anything to do with culture, religion, or creed.  I think it simply has to do with what is considered a swear word and as one wise woman in my neighborhood said, "if it goes in the toilet, it doesn't belong in your mouth." She specifically was referring to the word 'crap' and other words weren't an appropriate substitution for profanity in her opinion.

What I've learned is that I make mistakes (not a new lesson) but that people will love me anyway- however, I will gain more respect from those around me (or they may maintain their respect for me) if I  search my brain for the exact word that I want to use when expressing an opinion, frustration, joy, hurt, or any other emotion I might want to convey.

I did some research on this topic.  I will include a link here to some Op-Ed articles in the NY Times about profanity that are an interesting read.  I read several other papers and theories on this subject.  Many used the expletives within their article (counterproductive for my post) so I chose to leave the search to you.

My main point in writing this is to share that I truly believe, whether you have a friend who curses and you picked it up, our you just like to do it because...It does have an affect on those around you and can make others feel very uncomfortable; the ironic thing about my nasty little habit is that the person whom I had spent so much time with (who swore), was trying to stop, and by swearing myself, I was making that person uncomfortable.  I never imagined that their level of comfort (especially since they brought it around me) would be so contingent on my using appropriate language.  Side note:  They have never said this to's just how I know they feel.

You never know how others view you...and I feel like what other people think about me is none of my business.  I mostly feel that way because I can't change anyone else, I can only change myself (and if they want to know who I really am, they can always ask).  I would never want to change anyone...whether you have a potty mouth or not, It's not my business.  My business is to let you know that it does affect how others perceive you and possibly their level of comfort in your presence.

Emily Post felt (well really Peggy Post feels) that one of the top 12 rudest behaviors include swearing in public, "Using four-letter words and other obscenities in public without any reservations- especially in the presence of children," ranks #2 on her 'Dirty Dozen: Today's Rudest Behaviors'.  I think it's interesting that people have felt for centuries that society has become more and more rude (by approximately 75% each time the poll was taken (I don't have an exact frequency but the first poll was in 1405).

Peggy also says, "Save your more colorful language for a private place."

My two cents

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