October 19, 2009

Swearing

I'm confused. I barely flinch when my college classmates talk about their f*ing whatever, or use other bad language to talk about their annoyance at teachers or homework. I'm disgusted to think of myself saying those words, but I don't know if I really care if other people do.

Even though I think I've always been guilty, I don't like to think of myself as having lost my innocence. I mean, don't I have a reputation for not making coarse jokes or saying bad words? Ugh, I want to think good of myself! In a way, I feel like the same me of, say, a year ago. I'm a little shocked when I hear a friend talk about her "crappy autumn." I flinch at one word in the otherwise lovely "You Don't Know Me." (Ben Folds, featuring Regina Spektor) But only when I thought of who might be scrolling through my iPod did I think to delete it. I don't know if my mind is clean, or if I'm just decent at discerning what the people around me would judge me for.

I feel like swears are devalued. When I hear them, at least, they're not used in anger or real frustration. To me, they're just another culture's set of words, not offensive to anyone within that group (college kids). I don't use them partially because I find them distasteful, but mostly, I think, because my life is almost completely spent around people who aren't comfortable with them. But if my Philosophy friends want to go around using foul language, (most of the time they're not taking God's name in vain) sure, that's okay, just don't look down on me for having a clean mouth. So I don't know if my attitude is too casual or too critical. Or both. Or neither?

I don't know who I am, or who I've become. I don't like that I seem to be only concerned with perception: I want to be seen as innocent without making others frustrated at me. Do I know what is right and do it for the wrong reasons? Is bad language even moral issue?

I find it weird that I'm okay with listening to a song about piss and 409 but feel awkward when/if Mom or Col is around.

I find it strange that I seem to have the same to stance to all "bad language" even when they're on vastly different levels. Gosh, darn, and freaking are all in the same category as the worst of them: say them if you want, but I'm not about to. Or perhaps not, since I sometimes find myself almost saying the first three, or using them in my journal. Bleh.

Should bad language bother me? Should I be responding, "WHAT did I just hear?" rather than, "arg, I suppose I should delete this song"? Should I respond more forcefully when I hear bad language around me? But, what right do I have to tell other people to clean up their mouths when I don't think it bothers me too much? Maybe it would bother me, if I heard swear words being used to show hate. I suppose it's good that I don't hear that. But at least then the words would actually mean something.

4 comments:

Hayley said...

This post is making me feel all explode-y inside, part with fervent agreement, and part with angry unorganized and jumbled judgments.

"I feel like swears are devalued." Yes. I have no problem with people swearing when it's not gratuitous, in fact, I think it's really fantastic that words exist that evoke such strong reactions. But they're used superfluously, they're ruining my music!! I want to be able to listen to What Sarah Said, You Don't Know Me, and Taller Children! [eeeerg!!]

I have a problem with Christians swearing. Not because I feel like swearing is a /sin/, cos I'm not sure it is, but, /not/ swearing is something that sets Christians apart from "the world", a line that's already so blurry.

And I have a problem with anyone taking God's name in vain, heathen or otherwise.

I've been bending a lot of my parents' convictions lately, to see if they're mine, too, (I hate that I have to be such a self-important teen!) but swearing is something I will always agree with my parents on. It's ugly, a terrible habit, but something I can easily overlook.

[also, an aside, when it comes to euphemism cussing, this only supports my ongoing contention that anger is fail. just, connecting the dots for myself. :P]

Michael said...

"I feel like swears are devalued. When I hear them, at least, they're not used in anger or real frustration" I've thought about that myself, it just doesn't mean much anymore.

What I think is clear is this: Swearing is ugly, and a bad habit, and becides (at least in the circles that you and I are a part of) It's unacceptable, or rude.

Whenever my friend Peter swears I get on his case about it, but that's only because i've known him forever and feel completely comfortable doing so, and because I don't want him to sound vulgar at all. But most of the time I don't mind people using bad language.

I don't think that not having a strong negative reaction to other people swearing means you've lost "innocence" (By the way,have you thought more about that speech idea?), because it's not like it is really corrupting you.

I once saw (most) of a movie celled Fight club. Now that movie is morally abraisivie and pretty much every way possible, but swearing is part of it. After watching (most of) that movie (before finally just leaving) I felt dirty, and dingy, and down right depressed. The swearing was casual, every day language, but it's burdensome to consume too much of it. I don't know.

Elizabeth said...

Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."

^The Bible has all the answers. :-)
I can't judge anyone that uses bad language - but I know at least for using it myself, that it wouldn't work following Eph. 4:29 -[no matter how far I would try to water it down.] Do I have a problem with it? Yes, sometimes I do. Sometimes I think I'm just so immune to hearing people use bad language that 1.) It'll start playing it over in my head, and as a result almost come out in my speech and 2.) make me not flinch when I hear it.

I do catch myself at times. But I know what I /should/ be thinking. Eph. 4:29. I tell myself, "Can bad language [even if it's not taking God's name in vain] impart grace to the people that listen to me?"

And, taking God's name in vain is easy: there is an express commandment against it.

Joanna said...

I think there's a difference between vulgarity and cursing.
Vulgarity is euphemisms for poop and prostitutes. Cursing is saying "damn" or using God's name in vain. Vulgarity isn't something we should encourage as Christians, but it necessarily a sin to say them. The problem with vulgarity is that there's nothing true, noble, pure in dropping f-bombs. If indeed we are a Holy Priesthood then we need to treat our message to the world very carefully.
Cursing is another matter. People's souls are very important, and to throw around "damn" is a serious problem. (Guilty..) God was so serious about not taking his name in vain that he made it one of the Top Ten.
Vulgarity from non-Christians doesn't so much bother me. In their minds they have a different set of beliefs. I can't make them obey a God they don't acknowledge.
You're doing a wise thing in bringing this into the light. This issue to me is the same as a lot of other issues in our world: don't judge the do-er, but don't start do-ing. Where that line is is up to you. Love ya