Cursing is no longer a covert activity.
It used to be that people cursed under their breath, but using bad language is no longer such a circumspect activity. If the opposite of cursing under one’s breath is cursing over one’s breath, well, then, that’s what we do. Cursing is not in the closet anymore.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say that cursing has gone mainstream.
Cursing has been on my mind lately because I’ve been following political news — and it is seemingly impossible to follow politics nowadays without running into a mob of curse words.
This is not a partisan comment, by the way — both political parties have high-profile members who are unable or unwilling to stop the stream of unsavory language from unabashedly spewing from their mouths.
Cursing by politicians is not a new phenomenon. Even George Washington, who was by all accounts quite prim and proper in his language usage, resorted to a spate of cursing at General Charles Lee after a battle retreat that Washington considered cowardly.
But bad language has accelerated among politicians more rapidly, perhaps, than partisanship.
According to govpredict.com, curse words by politicians appeared in social media over 29 times more frequently in 2018 than in 2014.
So, what’s up with the potty mouths?
Well, we have only human nature to blame.
I don’t mean human nature in terms of the politicians and their propensity to curse. I mean the human nature of voters, who, intentionally or not, condone cursing.
Apparently, although our culture used to disdain cursing, this is no longer the case. Now, people view cursers differently than they used to.
Cursing is not only much more common, it is also much more acceptable — and even respected.
If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the headlines of articles about cursing in the workplace.
Of course, there are headlines that highlight the negative aspects of cursing while on the job. But there are also — and increasingly — many that highlight the positive.
For example, go to BBC.com, and you’ll find an article titled, “Swearing at Work Might Be Good for Your Career.” Even more affirmatively, Reader’s Digest has an article titled, “Swearing at Work Is Scientifically Proven to Be Good for You —Seriously!”
And numerous studies have shown a great array of positive effects of cursing. For example, people who curse are more likeable, more honest and more intelligent in a linguistic sense.
Not only that, according to studies, cursing can help a person handle pain better, complete a better workout when exercising, become a calmer person, control violent behavior and persuade others to embrace their opinions.
I am not a big fan of bad language. It’s not that I’ve never let a bad word slip, but it’s a relatively rare occurrence. I’ve always tried to hold myself to what I considered to be a higher standard; bad language, in my opinion, suggests a lack of vocabulary, a lack of self-restraint and a lack of good manners.
But, apparently, I am the one who is lacking — in my knowledge of cursing “etiquette.” Clearly, I am wrong — or, at least, not entirely correct — about bad language reflecting poorly on people. (Curses—foiled again!)
Still, despite this new cultural shift, I can’t help but think that more judicious language from our elected leaders would elevate voters’ opinion of government in general.
After all, in a literal sense, curses, like chickens, might come home to roost.
Readers may contact Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.