Have curse words lost their shock value?
March 13, 2019
It’s easy for me to recall the days in grade school when sticking out your tongue at someone was essentially the equivalent to flipping the bird. This being said, one could conclude that the use of curse words was an absolute abomination in the eyes of a child.
In the fifth grade, I remember an instance that my science teacher was scolding another student for using a curse word in class. She then explained to us that even if your words aren’t spoken directly to someone, they make everyone in the room feel as though they have been sworn at. The question is, have curse words maintained this same strong effect in today’s world?
Video games, television shows, movies and popular books are all places curse words are present. One can find them basically anywhere. Watching old movies or even listening to old music, the language is much more neutral and the words that were considered harsh back then are minor compared to the language that we hear now on a daily basis.
Even coming into college from a more strict high school setting, I was entirely shocked to hear my professors use curse words, not because of the words themselves but simply because of the informality of the situation. Surely, this opened up the platform for a much more open class discussion, but initially it was just strange.
The simple answer here is yes, curse words have lost their “shock factor.” They’re a part of daily life. Personally, I find it more strange when I meet someone that is offended or suprised by the use of swear words, given that person isn’t one of my grandparents. The growth of social media in the past years has likely had a great impact on the increased casualty of and as social media continues to gain popularity, so will swearing, be it for humor, emphasis, or simply just to add some flavor to a sentence.
Monica Marsh is a student at UW-River Falls.