We are smack dab in the middle of an F-bombing palooza.
If my ears are hearing correctly, cursing has become a large percentage of people’s lexicons. I’m not talking about the occasional dropping of a swear word when an 18-wheeler almost kills you on I-35 — that’s special occasion cussing. I’m talking about foul language being a part of your everyday vocabulary.
I first noticed a disturbance in the clean language force almost a decade ago but I blamed it on living in Nevada. There I was at a Target (because where else would I be?) with my two then-young kids in tow, and a mother behind me in the check-out line was talking to her teenaged daughter and cursing like it was A-OK to go down the F-bomb lane in public.
I turned around and shot her a “shut the F bomb up” look and she just smiled at me and continued cursing. I was stunned. Now, 10 years later I have become somewhat accustomed to hearing all sorts of crude language while out and about.
Last week, I was at the pool, and if you closed your eyes and just listened you might have thought you were hearing the profanity-laced HBO show “The Wire” or were in a maximum-security prison during a body cavity search, not a community aquatics center.
And here’s the part where some of you will think I need a course in gender studies/female stereotypes: I was aghast at the number of young teen girls who curse. Yes, I am a mother who uses the phrase, “that’s not very ladylike” to my daughter. (Sorry, but I’ve always held womankind to a much higher standard.)
Even worse, (full disclosure here) I curse and I’ve done it in front of my kids more than I will ever admit to. My dad is almost 80 and I have NEVER heard him swear. Not one bad word. Not even the words that most people think are OK to say.
But I do not openly swear in public. I prefer to embrace the friends and family plan. And this is new — a couple of years ago I would not have cursed in front of anyone I wasn’t related to. I guess you could call me a closet curser who has just recently come out.
(Yes, this shames me.)
It’s not just audible cursing that’s taken over. Social media is full-on F bomb. Some of the most popular parenting blogs are the ones that clasp the F bomb to their bosom as if they’re feeding a hungry infant.
I fear we have anesthetized ourselves to bad language. We simply don’t hear it or see it anymore. And if we do see and hear it, why do so many adults find the F bomb so funny? Noun, verb, adjective, adverb — the word cracks people up.
Remember when shut up was the “s” word?
If you want a get-rich-quick plan, just put a swear jar in the locker area in a high school (or, to be fair, a moms’ night out at many restaurants). Oh, the irony of spending thousands of dollars on ACT and SAT tutors to increase your kid’s verbal score and to be repaid with the abundant use of the most uncreative vocabulary known to man.
So, is that what it’s all about, laziness? Do we curse because we don’t want to expend the effort to think of a better word? Or do we now feel so comfortable cursing because no one calls us on it?
Those of you who remember what a cassette tape is: Can you imagine casually letting an F bomb or two or three roll off your tongue in public around adults who may or may not know your parents? The short answer to that question is a great big no. If we did curse, it was done behind closed doors, far, far away from any adult ears.
Do we now let kids get away with cursing and do we as adults now let the foul language fly because we feel it’s a victimless crime?
I don’t know. But if it’s this bad now, can you imagine what it’s going to be like in 10 years? We’ll have gone from scatter shot F bombs, a little here, a little there, to a daily carpet-bombing blitz.
Never have I been so happy about my impending age-related hearing loss.