Tag: Swearing

I am a lady, except in Facebook Messenger

Last night I had a weird thought about swearing. I’ve written about swearing before, about the fact that I don’t swear more than I did ten years ago yet everyone else seems to (or that is the impression I get). In fact, I don’t swear much at all. When I do let out the odd expletive, it is rarely a biggie. I am a middle-level word swearer and usually only when I am driving.

My children tell me off for saying ‘I can’t be arsed’. or ‘fart’. They are not normal. They tell me they never swear. I’ve never told them not to. They hate me swearing and they appear to hate swearing themselves. I never was a big swearer before I had them, in fact I haven’t changed. My ‘bad’ / ‘good’ habits have obviously rubbed off on them. I don’t object to swearing. I think it is completely normal. It doesn’t turn me on or off. It is just what it is. I have lots of friends who swear. This hasn’t changed me. Again, I don’t know why. I’m quite a susceptible person normally. I have some friends who swear big words. I even have some friends (you know who you are and I love you dearly) who swear the big words in every sentence. I’m not a very angry person so perhaps that is why I rarely swear. But I think that my swearing habits, for whatever reason, are incredibly moderate by 21st-century standards.

The crux of this weird thought is that so long as I’m not driving, I do swear when I type, particularly in Facebook Messenger. I don’t swear hugely often there, but I do swear much more often than I do in the real world. I type the odd ‘fuck’, or, because I am lazy ‘FFS’, or even ‘FML’. I also freely type ‘bloody hell’, ‘shit’ and perhaps ‘crappity crap’. I can be a complete potty mouth in Messenger. Why?

Message to my mum – no rude words here though

Why do I find it easier to spurt forth an expletive through my fingers than through my mouth? Is it because it doesn’t feel so bad if I can’t hear it? Is it because my children can’t see my typing? I’m not sure what the answer is. Swearing doesn’t come naturally to me, normally. It might be because I find written / typed communication far, far easier than spoken communication. The need to swear then must be in me. It just doesn’t use the same channel as it does for everyone else. This is all guess work. I don’t know why typing ‘shitty poo’ for me is easier than saying it.

Well all I can say to to this is I have no conclusion to this weird thought but I think I need to fucking swear more often, apparently it is healthy and a sign of intelligence and I could do with a better mental health and I am reasonably intelligent, most of the time, some of the time. Oh FFS FML!


Do people swear more than they used to?

This is a weird thought I had the other day after watching ten weeks of Big Brother, the programme on which the participants seem to swear an awful lot. Earlier that day I had had to explain to my children (who during the school holidays seem to know when I want to watch Big Brother) yet again that swearing that much is ‘not what most people do’ and isn’t something they should do.

The house where swearing is expected

The house where swearing is expected

So later that evening I asked my husband: do people swear more than they used to? To which he replied with a high level of certainty ‘no’. I disagreed with him. We debated the issue for about ten minutes (without swearing) and finished the evening in disagreement.

I don’t recall people swearing much when I was at school, or when I went to University, or when I started work. I don’t remember my friends and fellow teachers swearing when I lived in Japan (in Japanese or English). My colleagues at Oxford University Press rarely let out a rude word (although Simon Winchester memorably shouted a very bad expletive at me once in a fit of temper over coffee – not about the coffee).

The man who wrote a book about the OED uses colourful language

The man who wrote a book about the OED uses colourful language

So, despite what my husband thinks, as far as I see it, people seem to swear a lot more now in the year 2014 than I remember before this current century started. But am I imagining it? Are people really more free with the f-word than they used to be? Or am I suffering from a selective memory?

One conclusion might be that now people use bigger swear words than I remember from my childhood. I recall my mum once calling Nicholas Parsons ‘that bloody man’ (although I can’t remember what he did to provoke that comment). At that time I felt very shocked at her colourful choice of adjective to describe the host of Sale of the Century. I also remember people at University saying ‘shite’ a lot (at first I thought it was a regional thing that hadn’t reached Stafford) but I don’t think I heard that biggest of all swear words (you know, the one that begins with the letter f) much.

I booked this bloody man in for an ultra sound once when I was a temp

I booked this bloody man in for an ultra sound once when I was a temp

I haven’t really felt much need to swear in my life except perhaps when someone is about to crash into my car or after I bump my head. Even then I only say what might be considered a relatively mild word – shite without the e. I can’t even type a bad word. Perhaps it is me that isn’t normal?

Psychologists will tell you that swearing is not only normal and commonplace, it is healthy. It provides a release of tension. It’s also definitely not a class issue: people from all creeds of life swear. Earlier this year, some clever psychologists at Keele University made a study of swearing and concluded that it is a coping mechanism, with no relation to IQ. They believe that swearing can make the swearer feel stronger.

Maybe if I swore more I wouldn’t be such a stress ball and I’d find this thing called life a little easier to bear.