I’ve actually been thinking fairly deeply about communication recently. For our Capturing the Moment sessions, Andrew and I have been doing some independent soul-searching about what works and what doesn’t when we are reaching across the Interwaves to people. I have often thought about the issue of civility in discourse; where politeness is useful, and where it becomes pointless. Is it impolite, for example, to call Dick Cheney an evil motherfucker, if he actually is one?
And if he is one, does bringing it up have any positive benefit for society? I can say that it has a huge positive benefit for me personally, as it allows me to use a reverse magnet to move a certain kind of people further away from my sphere. This is crucial, because I don’t want to wake up somewhere to find out that my workshop host is a scary freak with Uzis in the kitchen who listens to Glenn Beck on the radio. (OMG! This has happened!)
So I try to make sure that from time to time I can make things clear about what sort of person I am, both to encourage like-minded souls to have me over for breakfast, and also to repel the people who wouldn’t like me anyway. And it’s safer that way.
Doriot’s desk. SHE had me over for breakfast! Twice!
Profanity is one of the great dividing lines in discourse. And profanity really rolls off the page differently when it is wielded by a woman. A man swearing is a man swearing (as Jane Marple would say) but an old lady asking questions is just an old lady asking questions. And a woman swearing is somehow extra-profane. If I say “cocksucker,” for example, it makes me feel fantastic, light as a feather, it’s like a little firework went off in front of my ice cream sundae. It might make you feel sticky. or angry, or mildly annoyed.
I have to balance out my joy in life (motherfucka!) with your threshhold of horror (blowing Ted Nugent in a Wal-Mart parking lot next to a car with a McCain/Palin bumpersticker on it), and be certain that if I ask too much of you, I give you something to clear your head fairly quickly:
I also find that certain words can be cancelled out if they are immediately followed by images of flowers.
Like, check this out:
“I’d rather lick underwear clean for a living than watch a single episode of Jersey Shore!”
Awful, right? But scroll down.
See? by the time you get down the wall to the pretty yellow flowers, you are like, “Whatever!” Context is everything.
I find, on the whole, that it is simpler, safer, and uses less time to be up front about who I am, and what I might be likely to say or do. I would love it if more people did the same, so we could sort ourselves out in a manner that gave everyone joy.
Because joy is where it’s at.