In my formative years crossing the plains, I never imagined the day that the conducting member of the bishopric would have to issue a reminder from the pulpit for everyone to turn off their cell phones. While there are many benefits the world of technology brings into our lives, it also brings new previously unforeseen challenges and situations for which we are ill-equipped to deal.
A family friend once told a story about my father teaching a Sunday School lesson and addressing the issue of substitute swear words. He said, “When you use those dadgum fake swear words, we all know dang well what you mean to say.” You might imagine he was trying to be funny or make a point, but knowing my dad, not so. He was dead serious. Darn tootin’!
We are all far too familiar with fetch and flip and frickin’ and freakin and fudge. I have heard these words explained away, especially by missionaries, with whom they seem to be popular, as necessary substitutes for, well, you know. This has always puzzled me, because honestly, my sincere hope is that a potential missionary, or any member — let’s do the “every member a missionary” thing here — should not need a substitute for a word that should not have been part of their vocabulary in the first place.
Sort of like we don’t really need to drink Postum as a substitute for coffee if we’ve never been a coffee drinker. (Postum drinkers, please don’t write to me. If you like Postum, have at it. If you are a convert or a former coffee drinker, this was not a judgment. Just making a point.)
Now we have the ubiquitous (look it up — this is called a “vocabulary word”) acronyms that pop up in the text messages and emails. OMG may well stand for “Oh my gosh!” or “Oh my goodness!” While those are generally accepted as appropriate, I might point out that back in the day “gosh” and “goodness” were invented to replace the obvious. But when I see, OMG typed, “Oh my goodnesss” is not what repeats in my mind. I dislike that OMG and WTF are causing me to mentally use words that I would never utter out loud.
What is the solution to this? As much as I abhor the saying “Oh my heck!” I might suggest that perhaps OMH at least makes clear what you are NOT saying. Ditto WTH. In Dilbert cartoons there is a watered-down devil character who carries a spoon rather than a pitchfork and says things like “I darn you to heck.” This, as we can clearly see, is a confirmation of our doctrine of three degrees of glory.
Okay, Hugh Nibley never wrote about this connection, but once when I was on Amazon checking to see if anyone had put any new reviews up for any of my novels, down at the bottom there was a link for people who had read my books suggesting that if they enjoyed my novels, they would enjoy books by Hugh Nibley. I’m not making this up. Go to Amazon and check it out. Buy one of my books, while you are at it. If you enjoy it, buy one of Hugh’s.
When Gone With the Wind came out, there was much controversy over the line, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” We’ve come such a long way since then, haven’t we? Progress, some would call it. Personally, I prefer
Might I also suggest OMSAG – “Oh my stars and garters.” This was one of my grandmother’s favorites. If we are striving to be a peculiar people, the possibilities are endless for the new acronyms we can create for use at the MTC, in PPIs and MIA.
And while we are on the subject, although it is my secret desire that my columns now and then make you LOL (Laugh Out Loud) — perhaps even make you LYBO (Laugh Your Butt Off) — might I suggest the more conservative CTM (Chuckling to Myself).
Our LOLs should be used sparingly. If they are peppered throughout our correspondence, perhaps a defense can be that it stands for “Love Our Leaders.” Therefore, our post-general conference communications could be full of LOLs.
And for my mother, LPUATHIDH — Love President Ucktdorf and Think He is Devilishly Handsome. Sorry, Mom. Your secret is out. Dad doesn’t read my columns, so ignorance is bliss. And Mom doesn’t text, so you probably won’t see that one. And Thom, my dear handsome husband, just to see if you are reading my stuff, I agree with her.
As cyber-swearers, perhaps it is time we make it clear to those with whom we communicate that we carry a spoon, which is better than speaking with a forked tongue.