My computer went poof! The lights went out, the screen went blank and there was silence from its hardwired cerebral nerve centre. Meanwhile, in the real world, there was much unplugging and plugging, tapping and swiping, even shaking and banging – the usual human response to electronic misdemeanors. Plus there was a torrent of obscenities that rose in the air, formed a dark, darker, darkest cloud and is now floating somewhere over the Pacific. No, it didn’t do me any good to shout my way through a vulgar vocabulary I’ve collected over half a century but … and it’s a big but … I felt better. That’s what swearing does. It makes you feel better. Unfortunately, like most things the millennials and their progeny have gotten their mitts on, in the 21st century, swearing is being ruined.
I’m old enough to remember when swearing was an art form, a verbal quest to find words that expressed the primitive soul that lurks inside all of us. In those days, people generally didn’t swear in polite society. Swearing was reserved for exasperation, frustration, anger, the end of the argument – all the most primitive emotions. People swore when the pudding boiled over, or the neighbour wouldn’t listen to reason, or the cat crapped on the carpet. Swearing was reserved for those special times when ordinary words just didn’t cover it. It released the tension, so we didn’t toss the pudding across the kitchen, punch the neighbour or kill the cat. These words were forbidden, and so, with one broken taboo, we became badasses. We stood toe-to-toe with life’s evil fortunes and refused to be bullied. Then it was over. We metaphorically washed our mouth out with soap and carried on.
Unfortunately, these days, swearing is used as punctuation. In the ordinary course of conversation, it’s splashed around like ketchup on a redneck’s breakfast. It literally doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s lost its punch. When you call your best friend a bad bitch on a daily basis, what do you call her when she actually is one? And that’s why the millennials spend every waking hour offended. They have no way to release the emotional pressure. Here’s the deal. When I trip on the stairs and bang my shins, I send out a wave of invectives to the world, from the person who chose to live on the second floor (me) to the carpenter who built the offending structure. Millennials can’t do that. They’ve already used their strongest words describing the latte they had at lunch and there’s nothing left for when real problems happen. So — when life comes along and pees in their porridge, there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. And it serves them right, the $%()#! bastards!