My husband and I went to a movie last night and like many movies that we have seen recently, the dialogue was replete with the F word. While I have become accustomed to hearing this not only in movies, but also in everyday conversation, I must admit that I have not become immune to its vulgarity. Now before you jump to the conclusion that I am just an old prude, just hear me out and see if you still feel the same at the end of this rant! My objections are not necessarily about morality, but more about the deterioration of creative expression in our everyday language. It is also about respect and especially self-respect. I would like you, the reader, to think about your own use of this modern substitute for anything you want to express. How do you feel about your personal use of the F word and how do you feel when you hear it every day? Have you become immune to it?
I was just wondering……..
So let’s start with whether or not the use of the F word has lost its meaning. Yes, I do believe to some degree we have become benumbed to it. After all, it is everywhere. There is no escaping it! It’s at the water cooler at work, it’s in many homes, and it’s definitely in our school systems. As noted, it’s in our movies, media, and more recently the civility of Congress has deteriorated to this language as well. So if it’s lost its meaning, perhaps you are wondering, then what is the big deal? Well, I would suggest that the decline in our overall dress codes, particularly in school makes a good comparison. When people are dressed better they tend to behave better. I suspect that the same applies to the use of the F word and our language in general. While the F word may to some extent have lost its meaning, the mere sliminess of it has remained intact. So the question I pose to you, the reader, is how do you feel when you are dressed in old, dirty, sweaty clothing? It’s definitely a pick-me-up to get a hot shower, to wear a new dress or suit, to get a stylish haircut. The language we use is also a key component of the way we approach the world. Thus, I maintain that mouthing slime is like wallowing in a pig sty. Even worse, what does this do to our attitudes toward everything around us for the day?
Let’s take a look at the modern day meaning of the “F” word. If you’re surprised, you may say “F!” When you’re happy perhaps you say “F!” When someone is mad, you’ll most definitely hear ”F!” But then you may hear “F!” when someone has suffered a loss and is depressed. You may say “ F!” when you forgot something. You will hear the F word as an adjective describing various things, such as “I got the F….ing job,” in this case a good thing, or “My F…ing boss railed me out today,” a bad thing. Or you may hear, “You’re a F…ing genius,” or “You’re a F…ing idiot,” the same adjective to describe completely opposite concepts. The F word is a noun, it is an adjective, and it is a verb! It is primitive and completely lacking in creativity! It’s a perfect word to use if you can’t think of anything else. It’s nondescript yet perfectly understood. You probably only need an IQ of about 10 to use it! So you may ask yourself, what does it say about the user?
A few months ago I was having an unpleasant text exchange with a tenant from whom I was attempting to extract the rent. The tenant, as usual, peppered me with the F word while I listened patiently. She added that we were not friends and therefore I did not have the right to ask her for the rent. I concurred that we were not friends, but that we did have a business relationship to which she had a contractual obligation, adding, that in fact, I would never have a friend who talked like her. I went on to suggest that the only person she was demeaning was herself. This idea must have struck a note of truth in her. Surprisingly since that exchange, she has never uttered the F word to me again. In addition, she has become the epitome of politeness and civility. I used to brace myself for her onslaught whenever I had to communicate with her and now every exchange couldn’t be more pleasant. I actually have come to like her!
So, what have you learned about the “F” word? Do you feel better towards yourself if you delete the “F” word from your vocabulary? Do you feel you are more linguistically creative so that you can avoid using this primitive form of expression? Wouldn’t you prefer your listener to know how you really feel with a more descriptive word? And if you do not use this word yourself, how might you affect someone else’s use of it in your presence?
I was just wondering……