Conscious Cussing

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Because it’s not about WHETHER you cuss. It’s about HOW you cuss.

by Jonas Ellison

I’d like to address the issue of profanity — not in daily life, but in an online setting. On Facebook, video, blogs, etc.

I’m a dad now. And since, like most of us, a lot of my identity lives online, a concern is — when my daughter Googles her dad’s name, what will she see? Will she be offended or off-put by the language her old man has used?

I’ve gone back and forth with this. I’ve had periods where I’ve cussed a lot online. And I’ve had periods where I’ve censored myself. Each one brings me into the next. A long period of profanity usually leads to a period of chastity and vice-versa.

There tends to be two camps out there on profanity. One camp says that you should express yourself freely and that profanity is just part of human expression. The other camp says that one should be able to communicate effectively without using profanity.

Here’s where I stand…

I believe that it depends on the root origin of the profanity that makes it work or not.

Cussing is often tied to anger and outrage. Bad juju. And I think this goes for a lot of people.

Here’s the thing…

Profanity adds emphasis to the essence of whatever we’re communicating.

So, that said, cussing can also emphasize the positive. There’s nothing funnier than a well-placed cuss word in humor. Recent studies are even showing that swearing is a healthy practice that encourages emotional strength.

BUT, just like with anything, it can be overdone. The comedian who drops f-bomb after f-bomb is just as obnoxious as the teenager who says “like” after every other word.

Another thing I’ve observed is that most of the people who are the biggest profanity police are also the biggest offenders in their lives. The problem is, when they cuss, like most, they do it from a place of rage and loss of control. It’s bad juju. So when they see it in others, it’s reflected back at them (aka: ‘projection’). And they do what they can to stop it.

I get it…

On the other hand, if done in a conscious way, profanity can bring you down to a more human level with someone. For example, most personal development books are written from a very elevated, fluffy, flawless place. The author usually writes down from their pedestal of perfection to us “lesser” readers as they strive to set a high example through their polished verbiage.

However, when I read Jen Sincero’s book, You Are A Badass (she got me right there in the title), I immediately felt a refreshing, human bond with her that came to a head on page 22 with this passage:

“All this is to say that it’s not your fault that you’re fucked up. It’s your fault if you stay fucked up, but the foundation of your fuckedupedness is something that’s been passed down through generations of your family, like a coat of arms or a killer cornbread recipe, or in my case, equatingconfrontation with heart failure.”

This was written from a REAL PERSON. I could relate to her because I talk like that sometimes. I just don’t see this as distasteful profanity. It’s the way most of us mortals talk and it’s done consciously.

NOW, I’ll note that she doesn’t litter the book with profanity. Like in the above passage, each word of profanity is carefully placed — usually to emphasize humor or vulnerability — healthy human emotions. This is starkly different than someone popping off, losing control, and going with the primal urge of cussing (what most of us grew up with, unfortunately).

So there you have it. My take on cussing. I’m sure Rory will realize that her dad cusses sometimes and I’m sure, someday, Rory will cuss too. The key is, like anything, to do it from a loving, tasteful, conscious place. I think that if we can cuss with this intention, profanity can be a beautiful thing.


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