Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What’s all the CUSSING About?

Damn and Hell were two words that were taboo when I was growing up.  Sometimes, Hell was okay to use if it was in reference to the opposite of Heaven. I say sometimes because saying “Go to Hell” was, indeed, not acceptable. Damn, on the other hand, had a softer alternative, “darn” which was in daily use by me as a child with an “Oh” in front it or an “it” after. 

Even saying "crap" was taboo back then. Sigh. 

Times change. Damn is widely used nowadays (not by me) and “Oh Hell!” is a commonly used phrase.  Even sh*t is becoming less of a curse word especially after the popularity of the Twitter account @shitmydadsays which now boasts over 3 million followers and is a verified account. By the way, verification is not cheap. $15,000 or MORE spent in advertising over a three month period, according to an article in Ad Age early this year. This means Justin, the account owner, is probably raking in some bucks if he can pony up that kind of cash. 


Where did I learn THAT word? As a young girl I’d  silently sneak down to the landing for the cellar steps and crouching there quietly, listened in to my brothers and their friends. Heard lots of “foul language” in those sessions. One time, my curiosity aroused, I tried to slip farther down the stairs. One of my brothers spotted me and said “Watch out; she repeats.” 

And didn’t we think it was cool to curse in high school? It was an act of rebellion.

Just finished reading a book by Anthony Bourdain. He uses f*ck as a verb a lot.  That’s HIM speaking.  And movies? No biggie hearing main characters throwing in a curse or two. I thought some of it took away from the story in “Sideways”.

Now, what about all this cussin’ and cursin’ in social media?

I’ve had a friend or two use f*ck on my personal wall. After gently reminding them that I have a nephew  under the age of ten who is friends with me on Facebook, they deleted the comment and have kept it clean since. Granted, the kid already knows the word, but why throw it in his face?

Yesterday, on my Groovy Reflections Facebook page, someone commented using sh*t. Facebook marked it as spam. What to do? My decision was to unmark it as spam but not like it. Yeah, it’s really not that “bad” of a word anymore either, however, was it necessary?  I chose not to click like on it in respect for those that may have cringed at the sight of the word. 

When it comes to the F word, I’m still amazed at the comfortable use of it by so many. I draw the line with it. If Facebook thinks it spam, I’ll leave it as spam and alert my admins to the usage, informally “flagging” that person. 

On Twitter, if I see the usage of that term, I unfollow since it’s usually not merely an “Oh f*ck” but used in a more actionable fashion. And misspellings without the “c” are plentiful.

In my past corporate life I met a lot of co-workers from around the world. One would use f*ck and sh*t almost as often as “Good Morning”. He also said Jesus Christ as an exclamation a lot. Perhaps this is acceptable in his native European country, but I found it uncomfortable.  Yet, we conducted businesses together. 

So if you’re a page owner, where do you draw the line? And what about posting using these words? What IS acceptable and what isn’t? There are no “official” rules here. I even looked around on the internet and no one has brought this subject up. So here’s my recommendation:  If using sh*t and f*ck  fits into the imagery of your brand then use it. The potential fan or follower has the choice of whether or not it fits into their lifestyle. 

Enjoy this trailer from Sideways. Do you remember what happens to the Saab? Oh, and ...say hello! There's the websiteFacebookTwitter, and Google+ ...I'll say Hi back. 


Guy Sharwood said...

It seems as though the herd would rather fall back on stock profanity to carry their conversation than invest in a dictionary or vocabulary builder to enhance their personal lexicon. My wife and I continuously have to put up with a lot of nasty language on the city bus and some limp wristed drivers cop out and say "freedom of speech," never mind all the children on the same bus who are forced to listen to it.

I'm embroiled in a continuous struggle to clean up my own language and often rely on euphemisms like "freak" in place of you -know-what, or "jeez" which can mean a contraction of "gee whiz" and not an invocation of The Carpenter's name.

I'd much rather learn new words which sound better, and make use of them.

Jeremy Bates said...

I just allow people to say what they want to say, providing, of course, that they are being confrontational with the expletives. Yes, cursing is agitating at times, but used properly, it adds a modicum of flavor to dialogue. I am not advocating it, mind you, but it does appear as if it is the norm anymore.

Tim Armstrong said...

People that feel the need to constantly pepper their speech with expletives do annoy me. The two comments above are both valid points. I myself prefer to avoid using it, especially in forums or places where there are young eyes and ears being influenced.

Gerry Wendel said...

It displays creativity to find alternatives to cursing. Sorry to hear that people are so unchallenged in their word choices on your bus rides.

Gerry Wendel said...

Thanks Jeremy. Exactly my point...these words are now commonplace. Appreciate your comment.

Gerry Wendel said...

Having children hear or see it, for me, is the most annoying usage of all. Couldn't agree with you more.

Shannon Grissom said...

Youth make up a good percentage of my audience. Accordingly,cussing is completely inappropriate on my page. I do not publish comments with expletives.

Gerry Wendel said...

I don't use them either. Seems like some genres in music though say them as often as "the"...and much of the listeners for that are also youths. Sigh.

John Evans said...

Such words are verboten on my site. Seems to me that they do nothing beyond coarsening the discourse. I've been watching movies with top-notch British actors and equally good writing. They've convinced me that the English language is so expressive and so nuanced that one can do without the blunt instruments of obscenities.

Gerry Wendel said...

Good point! And James Bond never said a cus word...