Opinion: Cursing takes away from message

Andrea Hefferan | Staff Writer

As a child, a very strict policy on bad words was enforced upon me. I was forbidden from saying words such as stupid, shut up, that sucks, crap. My parents would not tolerate such foul language in our household.

You can imagine my shock when I got to high school, hearing words much worse uttered casually in daily conversation. No repercussions were given to students who said them, and they did not seem to be bound by the rules I had grown up with.

Of course, one gets used to it. We hear profanity on a daily basis, on the bus, in the halls, during lunch. People curse a lot–but it is time for high schoolers to tone down these obscenities.

I am not calling for a complete disownment of all curse words. If used correctly, they can alert people of your strong opinions on a subject and intense emotions. They can get people’s attention and draw them into what you are saying. But that is where the problem comes in–we are not using them the right way at all.

People swear so much that the words have practically lost their meaning. Their initial shock value decreases as we become accustomed to hearing them. Anyone who is constantly spewing profanity will not be taken seriously when they actually mean what is coming out of their mouth. It is people who rarely curse that make the largest impact when they do let an expletive fly.

It aggravates me to be hanging around someone who feels like they need profanity just to have a conversation. A valuable trait in life is to keep cool during tough situations, and if every little grievance causes someone to blow their lid off, I won’t think very highly of them. Neither will teachers, coaches, potential colleges or employers. Constantly repeating the same couple words makes someone seem uneducated, like they don’t have any other way to express their opinion. That’s not a great way to make a first impression.

An outpouring of expletives distracts from the overall message a person is trying to get across. All I can focus on are those words, and in the end I don’t listen to anything else the person says. I just hear the same thing over and over again.

Some people think bad words are a joke, but not everyone else feels that way. Cursing, along with using rude gestures, might seem funny to the person using them but offensive to the person on the receiving end. Whenever I hear profanity, I cringe, always a little appalled at what’s being said. It’s clear that people fail to remember what these words truly mean and just how offensive they are.

Oftentimes, the bad word is unnecessary to the point you are trying to make and should be eliminated whenever possible. That way, when you really mean it, people will listen to what you have to say. Swearing can temporarily vent your anger, sure, but in the long run, it does more harm than good. If you curse, someone is sure to be offended; if you don’t, nobody will be upset about the absence of obscenities from your vocabulary.

Anyone can say a bad word. It takes more strength to refrain from using them. Language can be powerful, but if it is used the wrong way, it can eventually lose its meaning, and a way to express yourself has been lost.