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The Use of Profanity and Absence of Filter in the Millennial Generation

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Millennials and Filters

It is safe to assume that today, millennials do not have filters. They say whatever they want, whenever they want to say it. Some of these words just roll off their tongue and they do not get to take a quick second to realize what they are about to say. Whether you’re saying it intentionally or not, we use taboo words way too loosely. In past decades, it was frowned upon to use taboo words, and if someone did happen to use one then people looked at the person differently. In contrast to the past, today where if someone uses a taboo word people just brush it off like it was nothing. But also, people are taking more sensitivity to this as well. Being that we have lost the ability to filter our words like they used to, if you call someone a taboo word, they are more likely to get offended over it, whether it’s a racial or gender slur. We as millennials, including young children and adults, need to be more aware of our filters and make it more present in our everyday conversations.

We can estimate that cursing has been around for quite some time; new words coming into the mix every so often. Becoming more apparent in the media and in everyday conversations, cursing is now a part of our everyday lives. Generally, cursing has gotten worse over the years and our sensitivity to these words have also gotten worse. The use of these vulgar words has been around for as long as we can remember, but they were not used as often as they are today. For example, today what is often heard is best friends calling each other “bitches” all the time but back in let’s say in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, it was not that common to walk around and use words loosely. We are exposed to this language through media, they are present in a majority of shows and movies. Our increased exposure is what is making this what we can call “The Age of Profanity.”

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Taboo words were not always used in an everyday conversation like it is today. In fact, in the eighteenth century, taboo words were practically nonexistent by how censored everything was. In an article published by Matthew J.X Malady, “Sheidlower adds that bastard and damn were so offensive in the 18th century that “they would frequently be printed b–d or d–m.” (slate.com) Back then, everything was so censored nobody had the chance to use these words because it was barely out there. Also, media was not around therefore nobody could get access to these words unless they came out of someone’s mouth. People would be so offended to hear these taboo words compared to today where we say “damn” like it is nothing. Today taboo words are not as big of a deal as it was in the seventeenth- eighteenth century. People were always offended whenever someone spoke a taboo word, nowadays people just brush it off like it’s nothing. Comparing how swear words were in the past as to how they are now, they were taken more seriously than they are taken now.

In an article published by the Daily Dot they stated the following fact, “The use of curse words, in particular, has jumped significantly over the last ten years. A quarter of Americans admit to saying the word “fuck” on a daily basis, compared to just fifteen percent in 2006.” (Daily Dot) Generally, cursing is getting worse and it’s going to keep getting worse as the trend continues. Today we do not see it as much of a big deal, unless it gets to the point you are disrespecting someone. For example, the gender and racial slurs are a big deal. They are a high form of disrespect when they are said to someone whom the word affects. As stated in the podcast, “Words You Can’t Say” the speaker Kelefa Sannea states, “Lots of people feel like the N-word is so ugly, so damaging, so scary, that non-black people aren’t allowed to say it, ever. It doesn’t matter if they’re quoting a song. It doesn’t matter if they’re reading from an antebellum novel. It doesn’t matter the context. They can’t say it.” The n-word is a commonly used racial slur that is basically said everywhere. Also stated in the podcast “Words You Can’t Say” the speaker Kelefa states, “The T-word. I’m not going to say it, either. But it’s spelled T-R-A-N-N-Y. A word for transgender people, widely seen these days as derogatory.” These are prime examples of how greatly racial and gender slurs can affect the people that the words pertain to. In both cases, these are words that you should not say unless you want to be looked down upon. There are so many factors contributing to our increased use of profanity.

Media has played an important role in our worsened use of curse words and our increased sensitivity to them. Every show that we watch now we hear at least some cursing in it, at least one taboo word in the entire episode or movie. We have more exposure to these words mainly because of the media. Back in the 1700-1800’s television was not even thought of, therefore that language could not be spread as quickly as it is today. In an article published by NBC News, a woman stated the following, “For Kramer, a major culprit is television. “Do I have to be insulted right there in my own home?” she asks. “I’m not going to pay $54 a month for cable and listen to that garbage.” (NBC News) Older people find the use of this language to be disgusting and they see it as a serious insult. That’s the sad reality of today’s society that we hear taboo words almost every day of our lives and it’s to the point where it does not faze us anymore. The media has exposed us to even more taboo words and has lessened its strictness on this issue.

Adults curse around the household in front of their children and children hear it out in the public if they are out shopping, for example. Society needs to be more aware of this and the possible consequence it could have on a child’s vocabulary. If they hear adults who are supposed to be teaching them what’s right and what’s wrong saying these words, they are most likely going to think it’s okay to speak this way. When children are in school they will think it is okay to speak the way their parents speak at home, for example if they curse sometimes, as everyone knows school is not an appropriate place to curse. This will likely lead to the consequence of children constantly getting yelled at for this. Eventually this will also tarnish the child’s reputation and they will be a troublemaker. Since our generation and even generations before us like our parents has lost its ability to filter their vocabulary, our sensitivity has increased drastically. If a simple taboo word slips from someone’s mouth, people take immediate offense to it, especially if they do not know the person. If we continue to not recognize our filters and be more sensitive toward this issue we will keep repeating this domino effect. It will continue throughout the generations and eventually it will get so bad that it will be completely normalized. The meaning of the words will be lost because of how often they are said. Another consequence for this domino effect would be people losing respect for one another because of the language that will soon be normalized. People would not even notice any more if they are disrespecting someone. Our ability to watch what we say was given to us for a reason, we need to be able to start recognizing this or the problem will just keep progressing into something much greater.

Works Cited:

  1. Branstetter, Gillian. “Is the Internet Making Us Curse More?” The Daily Dot, 19 Apr. 2016, www.dailydot.com/via/is-internet-making-us-curse-more/.
  2. News, NBC. “Watch Your Mouth!” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 29 Mar. 2006, www.nbcnews.com/id/12063093/ns/us_news-life/t/watch-your-mouth/#.W6JhOWhKg2w.
  3. Malady, Matthew J.X. “Why Profanity Is Changing-for the Better.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 1 July 2013, www.slate.com/articles/life/the_good_word/2013/07/swear_words_old_and_new_sexual_and_religious_profanity_giving_way_to_sociological.html.
  4. Glass, Ira, host. “Words You Can’t Say.” This American Life, episode 637, WBEZ, 2 Feb. 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/637/words-you-cant-say (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

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