One of my pet peeves is the fact that people feel like they can use whatever language they want on the Internet or in podcasts without giving any thought to its appropriateness.
Last night I entered a discussion with other podcasters in which I linked to a previous post here at My Thought Spot. In that post I mention how I dislike the use of profanity in podcasts. One of the other podcasters in the discussion last night said that it would be hard to determine what is profanity across the board. What is offensive to one person may not be to another. And, though he did not say it, I think he insinuated that what is profanity in one area or country, may not be in another.
While I agree with his points on a general basis, I think we lose sight of something more basic. There are terms that are considered profanity by just about everyone who speaks English.
I think the problem comes in two areas. One is the fact that we have taken the idea of free speech to mean that we can say anything we want in any way we want. This is with a total disregard for the person to whom we are speaking. We have lost a sense of appropriateness in our speech and writing today. Along with this is the idea that many people don’t even know what is appropriate anymore.
I used to interpret for the Deaf in the public school system. I was shocked by the language used by some of the teachers in middle school in front of their classes. I would have had my mouth washed out with soap when I was a kid if I talked like that. Not even teachers (and I know this does not mean all teachers) feel the responsibility to model good speech in front of the students. If they are not to be seen as role models, then who will be the model for appropriateness in speech? The TV? Hardly!
Secondly, and this is the bigger problem I believe, is the idea of everything being non-personable. The thought that one can say or write anything on the Internet and not have to worry about their mother knowing how they talk. I hang around in some IRC channels where the guys say things in ways that they never would if I were standing there. There is a mutual respect for real people that just does not exist on the ‘net.
I think podcasts sink into the same problems.
Before you think I am a horrible prude (I am) realize that I am not talking about entertainment podcasts, websites or IRC channels. If your choice of entertainment is not what I want, then I can just leave. But my choice in podcast listening, website reading and IRC channel lurking is pretty much limited to informative content. I don’t listen to running podcasts or technology related podcasts for their entertainment value, I listen to them for useful information.
I certainly don’t think we need a government agency to police this content. That would be a step in a very bad direction. What I think we need is for people who know how to choose and use appropriate words take some time to teach others what good speech is all about. It really is a matter of appropriate speech, not a matter of stifling your right to free speech.
Talk however you want at home or among your friends. But it won’t take you long being around me before you realize that I don’t appreciate the fact that you are incapable of using anything longer than a single syllable four letter word. It really just shows you disrespect me as a person. And if that is the case, then I will respectfully excuse myself from your presence.