When Selena Gomez dropped the F-bomb in anger at technical difficulties during a performance, she also reminded parents that swearing – and even the equivalent abbreviations – can become part of their kids daily vocabulary.
“Selena Gomez was so frustrated by technical difficulties during KIIS-FM's annual Jingle Ball concert in Los Angeles Friday night, that she said 'what the f***?' into the mic and left the stage,” according to E! News.
Salty talk can sink a ship – such as the ship of public decency, which Ms. Gomez, 21, so publicly torpedoed. Gomez didn't use the W.T.F. abbreviation, but the prevalent use of casual abbreviations of swear words often leads to a desensitization to the words represented.
I had to ban "WTF" from use in our house and in my kids' online accounts when my youngest son, 10, asked what it meant because he always saw his brothers type it in online gaming chat and heard them exclaim it. One day, I heard him shout the letters in a library and it was time for the crackdown.
Swearing is a bad habit that wrecks the first impression both socially and later in life with potential employers.
To combat the flow of swearing from my son Ian, 18, I came up with a challenge for him to not swear for one week and I would give him $50. At any other age it would be a different motivator, but at 18, gas money talks and swearing walks.
His reaction was to immediately offer to split the money with his brothers if they would cover for him. I countered with, “The one who catches him swearing gets the full amount all to himself.”
It was on!
Our eldest son is away at college but participated as my online security chief monitoring Facebook for any swearing on his brother’s page, with the same reward in the balance.
When they were younger I warned my sons, “Constantly swearing is like eating boogers in front of the entire class with the girl you like sitting in the front row. It’s a bad impression that is unforgettable.”
The boys claimed they would be able to control the swearing when it was important and I beg to differ.
Case in point, 12 years ago my former New York Times editor “accidentally” used the F-bomb on my mom when she answered the phone while babysitting for the boys. Our voices are similar and he opened with a lulu of a litany until she cut him short with a withering comment that resulted in him not swearing at me for weeks.
In Ian’s case, however, he went the entire week without a single slip of the lip until the university informed him he needed to go get a vaccine. When the pretty, young nurse administered the shot he dropped the bomb.
Then he realized he’d dropped it and slipped a second time. He was sitting on the little exam table in a pediatrician’s office surrounded by duckies on the walls.
I could almost hear him wishing the ground would open and swallow him. In the car I told him I was willing to honor the bet anyway since it was the end of the final day and the shot was extenuating circumstances.
He sat in stony silence and then said he didn’t want the money, he just wanted the last 45 minutes back.
It’s been three months and when someone loses a video game match or stubs their toe we hear a stream of cartoonish creativity spewing forth such as, “Cheese on a cracker that hurt!”
All the money in the world can’t bring back the moment when you lose face because you opened your mouth and a cuss word popped out at the most embarrassing moment possible.