Psych scholars from San Diego State and U Georgia used Google Books to systematically explore the growth of swear-words in published American literature: they conclude that books are getting swearier and that this is a bellwether for a growth in the value of individualism: "Due to the greater valuation of the rights of the individual self, individualistic cultures favor more self-expression in general (Kim & Sherman, 2007) and allow more expression of personal anger in particular (Safdar et al., 2009). Thus, a more individualistic culture should be one with a higher frequency of swear word use."
These data also suggest two more historical points. First, the trend toward the use of swear words in books began before George Carlin’s 1972 comedy routine. His work therefore captured and possibly amplified an emerging cultural trend. Second, this massive shift in the use of swear words in books occurred despite the U.S. federal government’s efforts to reduce profanity on television. In this case, it seems the government was unable to constrain free expression broadly, such as in books (although they almost certainly have been able to on network TV). We have not examined other media in this research, but it is plausible that the cultural push for individual expression has in part resulted in the boom of less regulated media such as satellite radio and cable television.
In summary, the use of swear words was significantly more common in American books in the late 2000s compared with the early 1950s, increasing in a primarily linear fashion over this time period. The size of this effect, expressed as a d, is massive. This change is consistent with a cultural shift from more collective or communal values to more individualistic, self-expressive values.
,The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television: Increases in the Use of Swear Words in American Books, 1950-2008 [Jean M. Twenge, Hannah VanLandingham and W. Keith Campbell/SAGE Open]
(via Marginal Revolution)
John Perry Barlow lived many lives: small-time Wyoming Republican operative (and regional campaign director for Dick Cheney!), junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead, father-figure to John Kennedy Jr, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, inspirational culture hero for the likes of Aaron Swartz and Ed Snowden (and, not incidentally, me), semi-successful biofuels entrepreneur... He died this year, shortly after completing his memoir Mother American Night, and many commenters have noted that Barlow comes across as a kind of counterculture cyberculture Zelig, present at so many pivotal moments in our culture, and that's true, but that's not what I got from my read of the book -- instead, I came to know someone I counted as a friend much better, and realized that every flaw and very virtue he exhibited in his interpersonal dealings stemmed from the flaws and virtues of his relationship with himself.
Cyriak Harris is writing a novel titled “Horse Destroys the Universe.” Cyriak has been creating strange animated GIFs and videos for more than a decade so he made a promo animation for his book-in-progress. Guess what? It’s incredibly weird and amazing. From the novel description: Life was simple for Buttercup the horse. Chewing grass in […]
In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less (published in 2016, just out in paperback), Alex Soojung-Kim Pang painstakingly investigates the working lives of the likes of Charles Darwin and finds that history's most productive high-performers were working about four hours a day and slacking off the rest of the time: napping, […]
The Adobe Creative Cloud is home to a suite of editing tools today’s creatives count on to produce their content. Whether you’re an aspiring photographer, animator, or graphic designer, Adobe’s programs can help you in your creative pursuits, and with the Complete Adobe CC Training Bundle, you can come to grips with six of them for […]
Your pet might be photogenic, but getting them to stare long enough at your camera to snap that Instagram-worthy photo isn’t as simple as telling them to sit. Bribing your pets with their favorite treat, however, might just do the trick, and with the Adjustable Pet Selfie Smartphone Attachment, you can do just that while getting […]
The cybersecurity landscape is changing, and now one of the most effective ways to counter hacking threats is to employ another hacker against them. Commonly referred to as ethical hackers, these professionals use a cybercriminal’s tools against them, checking networks for vulnerabilities and patching them up before they can be exploited. The Certified Ethical Hacker Bootcamp […]