Mechanical

Why I'm Not Using Profanity

Since I've started trying to avoid profanity, I keep getting asked "why" or "what do you consider profane"? I've not really been answering this because I've been struggling to understand it myself. I'm getting deeper into this understanding, so I'll try to answer your questions better.

First, I am using profanity. I don't mean to, but it's hard. The longest I've lasted is getting to "day 3", but that was only because I was off work sick for two days. It's been very disheartening realizing I have so little self-control that I can't stop using profanity. I've thought about giving up, but I haven't yet.

Second, what do I consider profane? Profanity, strictly speaking, is an irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles or things. However, since I don't believe in a God or Gods, how can I consider anything profane? I revere life. I revere communication. I am constantly in awe of how people can interact and do great things -- along with terrible things. Thus, what many consider "obscenity", I consider "profanity" if used inappropriately. As such, while you might consider "goddamn" profane, I also consider using the word "fuck" in anger profane.

But wait! Didn't I just violate my "no profanity" pledge? When I first started, I would have said "yes". Now I don't. Carefully chosen words, deliberately picked to make a point, are part of what I honor. As such, saying "fuck" in the appropriate time or place (I can hear the jokes already) is not a violation of what I'm trying to achieve.

What's a violation of what I'm trying to achieve is the thoughtless use of profanity when communicating with other people. That's all. Do I care if other people use profanity around me? No, not if it's not directed at me in anger. I'm not trying to tell other people what to do or trying to set an example of how they should behave. This is just a personal thing to get myself back to a place I value.

I'm really not sure how this viewpoint will evolve -- or whether it will wither and die -- but so far, I like what I'm trying to achieve, even if I haven't achieved it.

That's enough of being a sanctimonious ass (deliberately chosen word!) for one day.
  • Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
I can think of only one appropriate place for 'fuck' which would render it non-profane IMO.
It's an admirable cause. I grew up in the DC area, and knew my fair share of people who cussed like sailors (though in DC many are former Navy,lol) but I also knew many people and professionals who felt cussing not only depreciates one's message in many cases but reflects poorly on the person using it. Whether just making the person look crass or low class or just making them seem less intelligent.

This may or may not be true for different groups of people but luckily I am not the type to really cuss much anyway unless I'm quoting someone or telling a joke where Disney filtering the punchline with a non cuss word would ruin the joke.

I realize it's a preference and not a moral or ethical type choice for most but I can't think of anything negative that would come out of choosing to not use profanity.
The way I look at it, swearing is rather like shouting. There are times when it is appropriate and conveys your message extremely effectively, but there are far more times when it is just obnoxious and makes you look bad. As long as you are able to maintain that level of nuance, I don't see a lot of reason for an absolute prohibition of it, but used carelessly or excessively it's annoying.
Ok, so how much of this was really so that you could say "fuck" a few times and get away with it?
Expand your vocabulary. Profanity is a short cut to expressing anger. There's world of little-used but completely nasty and insulting words available for your use *right now*! Let's start with some insulting words:

feckless - ineffective; incompetent; futile
rube - an unsophisticated person from a rural area
cuckold - the husband of an unfaithful wife

These are great when you really need to cause some damage.

This post was eerily timed to coincide with my own thinking on something similar. As it's coming up to Lent and since I do believe in God I have been trying to work out what I can give up that will represent a conscious effort to make me a better person.

Anyway, I would be interested to hear how your viewpoint evolves as you continue.

As an aside: during my university studies I was enrolled on a linguistics course and we studied how the kind of involuntary swearing as a result of injury etc actually makes use of a different part of the brain to normal speech - I would guess that makes it incredibly difficult to override. We also studied how swearing increases the closer we feel to a group, so amongst friends it tends to be incredibly high and is a way we seem to create social bonds. Fascinating stuff, hey? ;)