First: you can win a signed copy of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater just by commenting on this post over here. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.
There's this opinion I see floating out in the world fairly often, and it's this: certain types of vocabulary, particularly those considered "slang," "urban," or "profane," are lesser words and phrases typically only used by those who aren't intelligent or educated enough to use other terminology. In simpler terms: people who swear and use slang are inferior in intelligence and communication skills.
Whenever I hear this argument, my immediate response tends to be: FUCK. THAT. NOISE.
Before I start getting my rant on, I'd just like to clarify that I have no problem with people who choose not to swear for personal reasons. That's fine. My issue lies with the superior attitude that comes with the insistence that swearing or slang usage is something that marks a person as unintelligent or unworthy of acknowledgement. The sentiment is, frankly, bullshit.
I imagine anyone who's been around me for very long is well aware that I am fully capable of explaining complex positions without the use of slang or profanity. Basically, I'm no dummy. This is the case for people that aren't me, as well. So why is it that when one of us decides to use Internet slang or curse words, we're met with this attitude?
Because it's snobbery and tone-policing, that's why. If a communication doesn't meet someone's "standards" of appropriate discourse, then they are free to discount it or lament the decline of general public intelligence (of which they are exempt, of course). It's another way for people to try and control the language and voice of people they feel don't deserve to be heard.
This doesn't just apply to profanity. I recently saw a comic strip that was using "great literature" to illustrate how "lame" Internet slang is. Now, this is a strip that I usually like, so I was kind of put out to see this, because HELLO, INAPPROPRIATE COMPARISON. I naturally noted that the "great literature" is all stuff by white dudes from work released 50-500 years ago. Next, these come from drastically different mediums (the Internet versus poetry, stage plays, and novels very different from modern-day style). And, of course, it's disparaging the use of "Internet slang" as something of lesser notice and intelligence than these "great" literary masterworks.
Holding casual, conversational dialogue to the standards of classic literature is to say a certain structure is "real" communication, while the other isn't. This very easily blends into arguments such as, "You're swearing too much; clearly you're too angry to discuss this rationally." Or, "You made a typo and misused a word. This renders your argument invalid and me the victor."
Here's the thing about swearing: it exists for a reason. Swearing is actually tied to specific psychological reactions in the brain, and even if you don't use actual curse words, it's likely that you have similar fallbacks that your brain uses the same way. To decry it as something linked to a person's level of vocabulary or intelligence is not only incorrect, but a method of trying to control the expression of others so you can more easily write them off and feel superior.
I'm not even touching on certain racist and classist elements that exist under the surface of these claims, since I don't feel entirely qualified to talk about them. But here is a link you may find informative. Here is another one.
There is no standard of communication to express complex or abstract ideas. Yes, there are standards of communication in professional writing that function to make a piece of writing easily recognizable to the reader. However, language evolves and changes. We do not expect our modern-day authors to write in iambic pentameter. It's kind of fallen out of fashion as an expected literary form. The digital era has changed the way we communicate ideas. This is not a bad thing.
IN SUMMARY: there are a lot of fucking reasons why someone may choose to express themselves with profanity. Real, concrete, scientific reasons ranging from stimulating specific parts of the brain to intentionally using a word that elicits a specific response in readers. There are situations in which highly academic discourse detracts from a conversation rather than adds to it. And, actually, academia can be restrictive and shitty in its own right.
So how about we allow people to express themselves in the ways in which they are most comfortable and we consider the value of that communication without writing off the entire thing because they said something "gave them all the feels," hm?
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