For those of you who caught this post when it was released on Tuesday 16 Feb 2016, 11am EST, this is a re-write.
Reasons for why I chose to take this article down, re-write it and re-title it are as follows:
1. I set out to write a blog that inspires people to be their best, and instead came out sounding like a "harsh didactic bigot". I agree with you and I'm sorry.
2. I didn't realise swearing would be such a hot topic, and that it would be so close to the hearts of many. As use of language is a topic also close to my heart, I wanted to do myself and my (albeit tiny) readership justice by better explaining why swearing is a habit I'm trying to omit from my speech life.
3. I argued it half trying-for-empirical-evidence and half-pure-opinion; assuming people would just roll their eyes and close their browsers if they didn't agree (clearly wasn't the case!) So I want to show honour and respect for those that responded so strongly, and accurately represent my views so we can have a fair (and friendly) fight about swearing.
4. That being said, I have re-written this post as a pure opinion piece, mainly because I hope to inspire you to ditch the f-word as I have been compelled to.
- I didn't think anyone was actually reading my blog! So this is a huge surprise to me. It has given me a wake-up call to step up my game and respect those who read it.
- As a relatively new blogger (compared to my blogger heroes Mark Manson, Tim Urban, Mandy Hale etc.), I have been mentored to write with confidence and certainty. That is where my didactic tone might come from, as even I don't take passive blog writing seriously.
Lastly - most of you reading this might need to agree to disagree.
I just don't like the sound of cuss words, profanities, or swearing. That is my personal opinion, and I will not compromise on this... sorry. This is also my blog, so you are free to close the browser, leave, and unfollow my posts on Facebook or Instagram :) I would like to ask for respect for my opinion (as I believe everyone's entitled to an opinion) as I will have respect for yours.
Ok, so now that we're clear and are hopefully on the road to reconciliation, here are, from my gut and interior walls,
4 Reasons Why I'd Like To Stop Swearing:
1. My insults might take more work, but they'd be more impressive.
Call it a matter of tastes, but the stab is so much cleaner and sweeter when I express my disgust for someone else through fanciful use of alliteration and metaphor.
Notice the difference between these two sentences:
I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a witless worm!
F%$# you, you f^%$#ing idiot!
- Me reacting immediately after being rear-ended by another car.
If a Doctor has just given me bad news about my health, or I've stubbed my pinkie toe on the corner of a door, I give myself ample permission to say f$#@! However, I think there's room for me to practice masterful insults, saved up for people who really deserve them.
The delay in coming up with my insult might be less timely, but surely I'll get better with practice.
Plus, they'll be more satisfying.
2. It doesn't do justice to the vocabulary I've worked so hard for.
I don't claim to be a master wordsmith, but I am a Poet. And as a Poet, surely my vocabulary spans hundreds and thousands of other adjectives?
This arguments stays: If you so much as read the next sentence you are stretching your mind, by feeding it more information, curiosity, and room for different opinions.
(Being a hobby-cognitive-neuroscience-nerd there is evidence for mind input changing the physical structure of our brains.)
Even while you are reading my words you are simultaneously thinking of other things. Your mind was created in the image of a brilliant, powerful Creator.
You might not agree, but I believe our mind-potential is limitless, so why allow cuss words to represent us, when we have access to thousands of other cool words?
Do we not want to do justice to all the information we have collected inside our brains?
3. I'm convinced expletives should only mark extreme moments in life.
Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a place for swearing in our culture.
Here are situations where I allow myself to throw an f-bomb:
- When I'm extremely stressed.
- When I've just slammed the tips of my fingers inside a door.
- When I've just hit another car by accident.
- When a friend tells me they are about to die of a serious illness.
- When someone I love has severely hurt my feelings, undermined me, and I've completely blown my stack.
Back to my original argument - in everyday conversation, I don't think I need to swear. It's like using a crisp hundred dollar bill to buy chewing gum from a dirty convenience store, or using fine china to plate a $2 meat pie that I'll spend all of 2 seconds devouring.
When I'm in neutral emotion, every day conversation, I just don't think it's necessary.
4. I think I sound gross and ineloquent when I swear.
When I listen to Gandalf, Legolas or one of the Hobbits talk, I am lulled into a sweet sleep of beautiful anecdotes from Rivendell.
Listening to them talk makes me want to stream History Extra podcasts, or just hang out with the Queen.
I want to sound pretty when I talk. Sometimes I stop friends to repeat words or phrases they have used, because I think they are beautiful, eloquent, on-point.
When I was 17 I worked at a retail store where the f-word was repeated several times a breath. My poet/writer brain wanted to cry, while my palate grew numb to expletive depravity (sorry).
It was infiltrating my vernacular. My sister called me out on the store’s bad influence over me, saying I had developed a potty mouth. She was right. Potty mouths defend their toilet language, justifying it with reasons such as “I’m just being brutally honest and authentic.”
But why perpetuate bad habits?
I would be mortified if I heard my future 4-year-old daughter swearing; especially claiming that she learned it off me, her mother and primary caregiver.
So here’s what I’m proposing to do:
- If I must swear, I'll save the expletives for extreme moments (like stubbing my toe on the corner of a table, getting into a car accident or a really stressful work situation).
- I will think before speaking. Better to err on the side of waiting to say something to myself in private later (and writing an angry poem about it).
If you’re feeling at all convicted right now, I suggest you immerse yourself in old english literature, or listen to History Extra podcasts, or sermons where you enjoy listening to the voice of some really eloquent speaker. The purging will take a while, but it worked for me.
Also, if you're really keen and want to try an extreme method, limit yourself from environments with prolific swearing.
Draw a boundary and invest in the health of your mind, which will influence your mouth.
It sounds like a lot of work, but think of it this way - one day your son or daughter is going to hear and copy your every move.
I'm sorry if that sounds classist, but I want to preserve the innocence of my babies for as long as I'm responsible for raising them.
So this is really for my future offspring, who don't yet exist. I want to teach them discipline of mind, strength of character, and reflect this in kind, eloquent and self-controlled speech.
(Then they can decide to use whatever words they like!)
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