Today’s concerns about “fake news” and “alt-facts” are not misguided. Untruthful statements are part of the problem of the degradation of modern communication. We notice that gossip is rampant in our culture, and the language is polluted with profanity everywhere we turn. A great number of us do not like this state of affairs.
The problem is that unwholesome communications have become the norm and not the exception for a large portion of society. It’s not only acceptable to use unwise communication, but it’s often encouraged.
This is not an attempt to place myself on a pedestal or present the case for being a goody two shoes. There have been times I’ve been guilty of all the above complaints. If I accidentally hammer my thumb, an expletive will probably burst forth from my mouth. I’ve also found it necessary to use little white lies to salve an awkward situation. I know I’ve gossiped, too.
I should give you some personal background as to why unwholesome speech makes me cringe. My parents were very stern regarding all matters of talking. If my siblings or I uttered a swear word, we were firmly scolded. Mom sometimes threatened to wash our mouths out with soap. If we repeated gossip about our peers, dad would ask if we knew the information was actually true. The most severe reprimands came if we were caught in a lie.
During my years in broadcasting, accurate, skillful communications were foremost in the company’s standards of ethics and our mission statement. Our listeners depended upon us as their source of news. Our reputation as a trustworthy source of information had been carefully nurtured throughout many decades. That reputation was very carefully guarded. Our news stories were based on verifiable facts and never on gossip nor hearsay.
Cursing was absolutely prohibited on the air. Profanity was strongly discouraged in the office area as well. It was more than just station culture. Management did not want cussing to become a habit of speech…a habit that might accidentally show up in an adlib or an on-air conversation. Regarding good communication skills, management ran a very tight ship.
The disciplined communication habits of my childhood and career became second nature. It was just a matter of course that I rarely used unwholesome language in any situation.
These habits have continued to be assets in daily life. Unwholesome or unskillful speech does not help us to be taken seriously at our words. It’s rather uncomfortable to be in the company of a braggart or a name-dropper. Acquaintances will put up with heroic stories of past exploits for awhile, out of politeness, but they really find such talk tiresome. There’s a difference between using an example of ones experiences and the telling of an epic, embellished tale. People just don’t like to be around bores.
The subject of profanity has become controversial. To swear like a drunken sailor used to be considered a negative character flaw. Now, it seems to be a mandatory requirement for stand-up comedians and talk show hosts. In social media, memes I want to share because of the message, I scroll past them if they contain the “F-word” or the “S-word”.
Some users of course speech say that rude words bring emphasis and force to their statements. Actually, there is no need to embarrass others in order to effectively communicate an idea. Being crude does nothing to elevate a monologue, an interview, or a conversation. Entertainers who gratuitously slip foul words into their acts leave me cold.
The “F-word” is not a good substitute for actual wit or a great sense of humor. A good entertainer knows how to use a strategically placed euphemism without coming off as priggish or sanctimonious. A truly hilarious joke is actually funnier
without swear words.
Overuse of a nasty word diminishes its strength. I think there is a useful place for a strong swear word. In my subjective opinion, to use it once or twice in an evening to emphatically state a strong opinion is plenty. Too much chili pepper makes the stir-fry unpalatable.
The point of this rant is unwholesome speech is ineffective speech. Skillfully crafted, accurate communications are more effective and keep their relevance for a longer period of time. The absence of boastfulness, inaccuracy, gossip, and strong language enables effective communication and better interpersonal relationship with more people. If a person is seeking to communicate in a more passionate manner, wholesome speech is the most effective way to do so. When will the entertainers and politicians understand this?