Last week I asked TLSers in our Facebook group for an explanation I can give to people who ask, “Why is swearing allowed on TLS?” Some people who are no longer with us found it either unnecessary, or rude, or indicative or immaturity or even sinfulness. Some others just found TLS unbearably intense, and this is reflected, obviously, through our language.
Rather than promise them that I would police the words TLSers use, I bade them farewell and peace on their path because I think swearing is valid.
The responses I got from many TLS members were serious, hilarious, and poignant!
Here is a summary of the explanations for you:
1. Release: For lots of TLSers, they find using swear words incredibly releasing. Venting their anger or pain or whatever is more effective with swear words. In fact, some people found studies which showed swearing actually decreases physical and emotional pain.
2. Freedom: Many TLSers have come out of very controlling environments. Swearing is an easy and handy expression of their newfound freedom. Being liberated from a culture where even the words you can use is policed, saying a swear word is a radical and rebellious declaration of their independence.
3. Adulting: Several TLSers suggested that this is just the way adults talk. Adults swear because they can. It’s a normal part of their everyday speech. I know people who use swear words liberally. It’s just the way they talk. Some people judge those who swear by suggesting they are less intelligent and resort to lazy language when they swear. I know very intelligent people who swear and less intelligent people who don’t, so… so much for that theory.
4. Word: Sometimes there’s just no other word that expresses pain, anger, joy, frustration, confusion… whatever… than a well-placed swear word. We can use lesser PG-rated words, but they just don’t convey the intensity of emotion like a strong swear word. The swear word is a verbal manifestation of the potency of what we’re feeling or thinking.
5. Humor: The “F*** Threads” on TLS are, well, special. They are a mixture of seriousness because someone might be struggling with something, but they’re expressing it in a way that makes us laugh sometimes. Or watching a video of a mystic guru using swear words… it’s just funny! We all appreciate comic relief in the middle of a serious episode.
6. Spirituality: One of our members suggested that Jesus did the equivalent of swearing by calling his opponents names or suggesting they do this or that. Perhaps we have sanitized spirituality to the point where we’re no longer truly human. Swearing is just a part of being real flesh and blood people rather than disembodied pure spirits.
There are probably a lot more reasons to swear. But, come to think of it, who needs a reason? Why do we need to police our words? Of course I want to only say things that are helpful, honest, and true. I want to speak in ways that build up the good and bring down the bad. And if a swear word helps me to do that, then I will.
Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. Swearing can be a healthy part of that process.
(*** If you are not yet in our confidential Facebook group, please respond to this letter and let me know and we can fix that.)
Love you guys!