Nothing Cool About Cursing

Earlier this week I posted on Facebook, “I curse a lot. I don’t think that’s admirable or cool. Perhaps I am getting old and cranky.”

It provoked quite a few funny curse-laden comments, but the thread added some more fuel to my thinking.

I really consider myself and others who curse frequently to be angry or tired people.

BUT some psychologists disagree. Cursing releases tension, eases pain, and provides an alternative means of retribution (as opposed to actually harming someone, etc.).

Yet, when I read these benefits, I come back to my point. Cursing helps the angry man (or woman).

Other studies show that cruising is not solely the terrain of the angry. Most notably it can convey humor and allows other people to identify with each other, and let their proverbial hair down (maybe I am struggling with cursing because I am bald?).

There are some in this space that lather themselves in foul language. It’s the hip seasonal scarf for the social media savvy. It separates them from the wooden plain cloth of the average online personality.

While cursing may differentiate them, I am not sure it does so in a good way. Like attracts like. So the angry person will attract other angry people, and in turn create more seeds of anger together. After all, isn’t that what we have become? Tribes of polarized like-minded people?

“Fuck yeah.”

Soemtimes this occurs in wider venues, though. Consider the speaker who goes to a conference and drops f bombs like there is no tomorrow. Cool? Maybe to some. But then there’s the rest of the audience. the 65% who may have liked the ideas presented but walk away shaking their heads, turned off by the hot mess that came to offer them intelligence that day.

And the people, the wins that are attracted to the speakingcurser? Going back to the social network model, it’s fair to assume that they are as angry or are attracted to anger.

Some say cursing is a demonstrative example of passion, of caring.

I can agree with that viewpoint if cursing is sparse. For example, David Ortiz doesn’t curse every time he speaks. That’s why his f bomb addressing Red Sox fans after the Boston Marathon Bombing was very tolerable, even to the FCC.

Employers feel differently. A Careerbuilder study revealed that, “64% of employers think less of an employee who swears repeatedly, and 57% said they are less likely to promote someone who using curse words. A further 71% of employers said that swearing shows a “lack of control,” while 68% says swearing demonstrates a “lack of maturity.””

Woohoo! Soup anyone?

Are you confused yet? I am, too.

Well, it’s Friday and the weekend is here. Plenty of time to sort it all out.

What do you think?

Featured image by Seven31Studios

19 Replies to “Nothing Cool About Cursing”

  1. I understand that people curse and have muttered a few under my breath at times. Though I never do it out loud or in front of other people. Part of that is the way I was raised. I guess I struggle with the public displays of it, particularly on Facebook and Twitter, and particularly from professionals. For me, I’d have trouble hiring someone who couldn’t harness that, or wore it as a badge of honor, like “Hey, I’m one of the cool kids.” That’s what it feels like to me. Some might say that if you are the type to curse, then you should be “authentic” and let it out whenever and where ever. I don’t see that as a sign of authenticity, or holding back as a lack of authenticity. But, that’s just me.

    1. Yeah, I’ve heard the authenticity bit. Here’s my response to that: I can be an unbridled authentic jerk, or I can be an authentic jerk who is trying to improve himself. Point being I don’t hide from character defects, but I refuse to simply accept and surrender to them. I also have to say I am a little less tolerant of people who try to bully others into behaving poorly by labelling them as inauthentic.

    2. there’s a difference to being authentic vs and being a person who exhibits no self control (again – back to politeness and how you make people feel around you)… swearing inappropriately is a sign of lack of control, lack of professionalism, insecurity (if you’re doing it to be cool – perhaps in the case of presenters who need to use 50 swearwords in a 10 minute talk)… people aren’t stupid, the bottom line is how the presence of a swearword or a swearing person makes people feel… if people don’t feel good around you – it’s just wrong and bad. The world isn’t here to be pummeled by ones negativity and nastiness.

  2. When you really think about people who curse, and varied feelings ranging from it being funny, to it being obnoxious to almost threatening or causing discomfort, I think it really comes down to familiarity. If you know someone well, whether that be professionally or personally, you are able to understand the nature of the swearing, and put it into the right context. People in general need to feel safe, understanding what is going on is part of that safety.

    In a team or professional environment, it’s just good practice to choose ones words in such a way that puts as many people at ease as possible. Thats just being polite. You dont want to walk around in a professional environment spreading feeling of shock (“oh my god, did she just say that??”) or fear (this person is really angry and not able to control themselves)….Every environment is different. Ones level of success or stature in the organization can often grant a little more leeway in a well placed curse word, because people already respect work, or the person’s mind. They aren’t in the position of judging the person simply on the words they are choosing at the moment, but have the advantage on seeing the big picture, which allows them to feel “safe” and not disrespected or fearful.

    A slip of a swear word when ones character normally would not use one is an appropriate “slip” it demonstrates anger or frustration, and in appropriate circumstances, its healthy and good to be angry.

    Swearing is a problem, no matter who it comes from when its directed at a person, when its screamed or expressed in a heightened state, when its muttered so frequently people around you are alienated, and feel afraid to approach you. In a call center for example, you cant have people muttering and swearing after every call – what happens to the vibe in that department or in the team when this happens? Negativity spreads, and that’s another point where chronic cursing is an issue and totally inappropriate.

    We are in a stage of communication where authenticity and genuine expression are highly valued and sought after – the drop of a swear word in appropriate context – as we’ve even seen in titles of books now ex: “no bullshit” – seems to work. 10 years ago could a book with a curse word in a title pass as something serious? Now it makes people smile, feel less apprehensive and able to relate.

    The art of swearing is now just that, an art – and so those who walk around swearing without a supportive culture or demeanor of class or knowledge will still be “a problem” – whereas those who have built character – or established their stability will do just fine.

    So in business, swearing isn’t cool – and it’s not cool in real life day to day situations either – unless all the factors around it make sense – and thats about judgement. Smart people know how to judge things and just act naturally while NOT making others uncomfortable – thats being genuine and polite – even with a swear word or two thrown in here or there…and its okay by me.

    its all about how you make people feel.

  3. I picked up some fine curse words when I was distraught about a specific situation in my life and needed new words. The ones I had just didn’t express how I felt. Unfortunately, letting those words into my vocabulary means they’re there to stay.

    I don’t use curse words in presentations or in most of my writing because I think I can convey my point without relying on those words (or ten million exclamation points). I say “most” only because I’ve seen a word appear in a poem every so often. I don’t usually curse around other people, either, unless I’m really, really upset, and it still depends on who’s around. My words sometimes get away from me when I’m upset.

  4. I cuss. No point in denying that. Not sure I really trust a person who never lets one or two choice words go from time to time. But I was relieved when the Capitol One spot featuring Sam Jackson was revised to omit his cussing at us. It was gratuitous. Unnecessary. And my guess is they caught plenty of flack for it. Cussing indeed has it’s place.

    1. Yeah, that was kind of unnecessary. It almost seemed like they were trying too hard with that campaign.

  5. I’m not a big fan of cursing, but I do it some when I’m at home. Usually, the curse word is closely preceded by me doing something stupid, which I have little tolerance for and thus…

    Still, it is a part of language and I’m fine with people speaking however they want.

    1. In the end, I have to agree with you. It is a free world, and sometimes you have to be able to see past language to what people really mean!

  6. All things in moderation.

    My take is this: tolerance is a two-way street. As an adult, I understand and respect your desire to not endure “foul language” in certain circumstances, but just as I make an effort to not offend you by “being myself,” you have a responsibility to not lose your shit when I let a 4-letter word slip once in a while.

    Besides, if you replace the explicit terms with their PG-13 equivalents – crap, darn, fudge, et al. – your intent is exactly the same, in which case I can’t help but discount your position wholesale. We’re all adults, here. Judging others based on their language – even those apparently illiterate, xenophobic miscreants who represent the bulk of comments on YouTube – is hardly different from any other stereotype.

  7. Well, sometimes there’s nothing like a good F-bomb, at just the right moment of course. (I still love George Carlin for this). Depends on the situation, of course. If I say fuck at my son’s soccer game they might ban me for life. Well actually I made the mistake of telling one mother I actually like Howard Stern … which in her eyes was just as bad, me thinks … ;)

  8. I totally agree with you. Some times the cursing too impact on our behavior and attitude. I we take positively and sportively we will grow drastically.

  9. I guess I missed that Facebook thread, but I’ll just weigh in with my opinion, which I think is fairly representative of a not small percentage of the population. There’s a time and place for cursing. The professional context is not it. It definitely lowers my opinion of the person who lets the profanity fly, and I am much less likely to pass along anything of theirs to my network if it is full of curse words. If someone doesn’t care what others think of them, and doesn’t mind losing potential business or exposure, then curse away!

    1. Context is important, and I have to say, the conferences I plan for, well, the audiences wouldn’t react well to foul language. Maybe one or two curses, but even that would be jarring.

  10. I virtually never curse in my writing or on social media (I do more in real life), but when I do, it actually *means* something. It carries a weight it wouldn’t otherwise. It can, like the Ortiz example, carry an emphasis and weight that can’t be expressed in almost any other kind of way.

    Since having children, I also curse a lot less in real life. I think about it more, and, again, use it more as something to truly emphasize. I feel as if the words have more power that way. I feel like by taking away the power of some words, we’ve made other words take the power these words once had.

    And now I feel as if I’m rambling, so I’ll GTFO. ;)

  11. I do not curse on social channels or in the business environment. I can curse at traffic or at a particularly tough problem (yes, I compete against inanimate objects and problems and curse them soundly if I think they are winning).

    I get frustrated at myself when I do curse because I do think it shows a lack of control. Ironically, if situations escalate, I become much calmer and engaged in conflict resolution. Go !@#$ figure?

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