Friday, 31 March 2017

Swear Responsibly

I read a great post recently by Angela Melling, an unashamed curser.

Not a cursor.

She owned the fact that she swears - in her own words - "A lot" (15 January 2017).

Angela hastened to add that she is menopausal, and getting very irritated with sanctimonious people tutting at her preference for salty language.

Yes, salt. To me, swearing is salt on our thoughts. It makes things tastier and more memorable, and I for one LOVE a good ___ing swear. And if you have never read Sir P'Terry (Pratchett), take a tour through "The Truth" (2000) for some ___ing guidance as to how to do it well, with humour and panache.

In her LinkedIn article, Angela argued that work should not be a 45+ year prison term, governed by warders whom you have to call 'sir', while they call you "by your first name to reinforce his superiority" (and yes, she did mean him: she noted that those in charge were "usually a Mr"). We should be enjoying our work long past compulsory retirement, not being constrained by tutters (15 January 2017).

Angela points out that "Swearing is a [safety] valve, it releases pressure". I agree with her, as do Baruch, Ollier-Malaterre, Prouska and Bunk (2017, in press), who say using "adverse emotional reactions as a coping response to regain emotional equanimity" is no bad thing. There is nothing like having a good vent, then, after letting off a load of outraged steam, we can get on with our day, and deal with tutters, nutters and 'but-'ers with a cool head. 

She also suggests that someone letting off a few curse words should not upset us. She suggests that we instead save our ire for "the prevailing storms of misinformation (FAKE NOOS!), unbridled greed, stupefying self-interest and the tsunamis of hatred" currently polluting the interweb (15 January 2017). We can include 'alternative facts' in those more justified areas of condemnation.

Citing James Watt, author of the non-help book "Business for Punks", Angela says that “Unless you are occasionally petrified you are not pushing hard enough. You need to get yourself out of your comfort zones. Comfort zones only exist to perpetuate mediocrity and anonymity (15 January 2017).

From what Angela writes, I think she feels that comfort zones can make us more prissy about language, and less uptight about the real issues: those of true diversity, quality and social justice. Something for us all to guard against.

However, there is an assumption that the more professional you are, the less likely you are to swear. Not so, found Baruch, Ollier-Malaterre, Prouska and Bunk (2017, in press). That, "Unlike the assumption that swearing would not occur in high profile occupations (Sliter et al., 2012), we found that it does", and at all levels.

concluded her post with "Do swear responsibly and remember to be nice to one another". I like the idea of responsible swearing: whereby we should not swear AT others, but simply swear about issues. Things, not people. Oh, and not swear "in front of children, strangers or self-righteous killjoys".

Now, I wonder how we recognise a killjoy? Perhaps the tutting will give them away.

Let's be un-tutty out there.




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