The dissolution of language sensitivity

Walk through the school halls and listen closely. What do you hear? Today, racial slurs, derogatory terms and blatant profanity are so common among students, that to surpass an entire day without hearing them is nearly impossible. The use of obscene language is a consequence of pop culture that deprives students of sensitivity.

Students listen to music while they study, eat, roam the school halls and in practically everything else. Research by the Board of Education revealed that 35% of students claim that the greatest influence of persistent swearing is profanity in music. Profanity in music has always existed. Beginning with implied sexual or racial references in songs such as David Peel’s “Up Against the Wall”  or Pink Floyd’s “Candy and a Currant Bun,” music has slowly progressed into the explicit structure we know today with increasingly popular genres like rap and metal. In a study led by Timothy Jay and Kristin Janschewitz,it has been proven that prolonged psychological exposure to vulgar language results in a reduction of sensitivity toward sensitive topics such as race and mental illness. Therefore, the easy access to music and the rise of explicit lyrics has given birth to a new, common, but damaging habit of swearing and profanity.

Music, the leading role, is not the only factor. Blockbuster films, uncensored social media posts and explicit clips posted on video sharing networks contribute to the influx of profanity among students by providing an output of false security. In other words, we begin to think these terms are “acceptable” in social settings when, in reality, they are not.

Unlike in previous centuries, profanity today is integrated into our common language, without the least understanding of its damage toward social groups. Prof. Terry Haydn, from a recent survey , declared that students are “unable to be tamed because of unsupportive parents.” Negligible parental care undoubtedly permits freedom for students to do anything without punishment; however it undermines their understanding of the negative effects of using vulgar language. Furthermore, a parent’s inability to support the mental growth of a student contributes to the inadequacy of their respect.

Protest against  the use of the “r-word” and the “n-word” have recently appeared in the spotlight, especially among students.  Without giving the least amount of sensibility, students use vulgar language in classrooms, libraries, educational facilities and in other inappropriate circumstances. Without knowledge in the set implications of the “r-word,” students lose respect for those who were born with mental illnesses.

The relative influence of pop culture on the way we speak has been a controversial topic nonetheless. Some believe that students are altering and evolving pop culture. However, such a view lacks sufficient support. In fact, pop culture is a complete separate evolution from our language. As previously stated, profanity among students can only be influenced by an external force; one being pop culture. We were not born knowing words that generalize and insult others; they can only be acquired through exposure. Thus, the idea that we influence profanity in pop culture is false.

Frequent use of profanity is detrimental toward students’ reputation, creating a false image of who they are. Students become unsophisticated and unaware of their social environments. They then proceed to say and do reckless things without thinking, defacing various social groups without consideration. Furthermore, they are often referred to as immature or senseless. Although swearing is a habit most students have, it is important to understand the potent necessity to recognize and address it. With time and care, students can gain a sense of awareness for word choice. “Think before you speak,” isn’t advice you should overlook.

By Richard Zhang, Staff writer

Photo courtesy of Natalie Matthews-Ramo