By Samir Shukla
One of the dispiriting aspects of the world we live in is that we are increasingly becoming numb to being shocked. War, violence, misinformation. Lots of really bad things.
This is largely because of the bombardment of information we endure daily. It’s like getting punched on an arm repeatedly until the arm becomes numb to the punches.
Sitting here, on this mellow November evening, I’m thinking of something profanely dull that is the gateway drug that contributes to this increasing numbness to being shocked. We cross paths with it daily, something that is part of our everyday language and is so pervasive.
I’m talking about profanities. The current palate of overused English curse words is beginning to annoy me more than their original intent to shock or disgust. Take the F bomb for instance. It’s dropped so often now in films, music, TV shows, books, casual conversations, traffic jams, personal clumsiness, that it sounds, well, more dumb than offensive. We have become numb to the word. It has lost any sense of evoking anger or disgust.
Our languages and communications have degraded to a sophomoric level in many scenarios, and overuse of profanities just adds to the blah blah of it all. Social media is the added fuel to this fire of dumbness and numbness.
An example. We recently finished streaming the series, The Bear. It’s an intriguing and very human show about a restaurant and its workers, where the characters are full of anxieties, foibles, and disjointedness that most people go through in their own lives. You feel for the characters, identify with some of them, love some, hate others. That’s what a well-written and developed show, or film or book should do. It’s a well-constructed show.
Here’s my annoyance. The non-stop F bombs dropped every other sentence began to annoy me to no end after a while. You know, I get it. They are a diverse group of humans tossed together like a salad, and they are angry, a lot. But I don’t need to be pummeled by words that no longer offer any offensiveness or anger. It’s no longer shocking or offensive, it’s worse. It’s boring.
Incessant profane discourse adds to our shock numbness. Makes us sound dumber.
I say, for the love of language, we need to come up with new profanities. Something fresh, something more offensive, as some of our traditional shockers have become so overused that they have lost any level of their intended intention, offensiveness.
Explore the possibilities of language, of words, and come up with some stinging new words to showcase anger. And only use them rarely. Look, if one of my dearly departed grandmothers ever dropped the F bomb, of course they never cursed, but let’s say if, then I would know they were angry, really angry at that moment. They would be making a succinct, albeit profane, point. Everyone would go, whoa, granny is mad.
That is the point of such words. They have power. We will always have words or phrases considered profane, offensive. In the interest of keeping language and communications interesting, let’s expand our literary world and come up with new nasty words. Why the hell not, hmmm?
Samir Shukla is the Editor of Saathee Magazine
Contact: [email protected]