Friday, 30 May 2014

Cell phone swearing

Cell phone swearing
30 May2014

I’m clearly a prude.  And a big one at that.

Now I’m the first to admit that I swear.  I own it.  I’m big enough to take it on. 

When my kids were really little, I kept it together and didn’t swear in front of them.  I didn’t have to.  I wanted to set a good example, and I found that I could express myself perfectly fine without profanity.  Unless they were out of earshot.  In which case, I could let rip.  Yes, yes – Bad Helene.   

Now I understand that you get various degrees of swearing.  What’s terrible for you, might be practically nothing for me.  And vice versa.  Dropping the “F” bomb is hardly seen as foul language by some and unforgivable by others. 

I have someone very near and dear to me, who in the absolute height of anger, frustration or pain, might softly exclaim, “Dash-it!”.  And then I know he feels badly about it for ages.  And has remorse for his self-perceived lack of control. 

Tweens and teens do not even vaguely have the same set of morals and attitude towards swearing, that us seasoned adults have.  For them it’s new.  It’s risky.  Dangerous.  A measure of exactly how badass they are.  Rebellious.  And let’s not forget uber cool.

And I’ve overheard them on occasion.  They can let rip too.  Most especially the boys.  I’ve even on occasion, had risen eyebrows, when I’ve fetched my kids from Primary School and I’ve heard some of the little kids, hanging in the trees on the school fields swearing away.  Do they really understand what they’re saying?  Or are they merely mimicking Dad or Mom?  A TV programme or a “cool” PlayStation game?

I’ve also heard the littlest of kids sledging and swearing on the sports fields.  Horrendous I tell you.  My youngest, Cole, once nearly dropped a ball in shock during a rugby game when he was in Grade 1, when a little boy from a different school both played and talked dirty, during a game.

However verbal swearing from kids is absolutely nothing, as opposed to the swearing they do on all forms of social media.  They’re not really discerning.  They do it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  But by far, they do the most amount of swearing via texting on their phones.  Albeit BBM, sms, WhatsApp and the likes.

It’s as if they don’t have a filter at all.  No concept of the meaning of the words they’re uttering with their typing.  The connotations of those words.  What they’re really implying. 

They use and abuse them, the way you and I would use a tissue.  Or throw away a piece of paper.

For them, the penny has not yet dropped, that once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.  They might swear and say something terrible about a friend on a group chat, and delete it straight after, so that they don’t get caught out, or if they’re feeling remorse.  But those words are still out there, on the phones of the seventeen other friends, that were a part of that same chat.  It never goes away.  There’s evidence.  And a virtual trail, linking them back to the deed.

At sixteen, I don’t check Luke’s phone anymore.  Mostly because he busts me each time, and I made him a promise that if he’s worthy of my trust, I won’t breach his privacy.  And with having a sixteen year old son, some things are best left unknown.  I also realise that luckily for me, due to the fact that there were no cell phones around at the time that I was sixteen, I was indeed fortunate.  I’m sure I would’ve been the worst!

But my little twelve year old?  Well, I’m the mom.  I pay the bill.  And I’m allowed to check her phone.  Having a cell phone at her young age is a privilege that I’ve bestowed upon her.  It’s not a right that she has.  I feel that I have a moral responsibility to guide her.  And to look out for her safety.  And I’ve been shocked.  It’s not just the boys swearing.  It’s the girls too.  Language worthy of the foulest gangsta movie ever.  Uttered via texting by sweet little eleven and twelve year olds girlies.  Where are they heading?

There is a certain level of disassociation with the words they’re typing.  Because they’re not uttering them verbally out loud.  To someone’s face.  Where they can gage facial expression and body language.  Intonation doesn’t enter into it either.  It’s just cold, harsh words. 

My Berry has been warned.  Don’t type something you’ll be ashamed of later.  And that you won’t say to somebody if they were standing in front of you.

Raising kids in this day and age with all of the technology at our disposal is tricky.  Very tricky indeed. 

Paper trail?  Not so much.  Cell phone trail?  Very much so.

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1 comment:

  1. It is incredible how one can become desensitised to word and their meanings. I know it only too well in the Lombard family.
    But kids just don't have the experience to know when it is inappropriate.