Having future plans affects your present. If you have a clear goal you’re working towards, there are necessarily things you won’t be able to do right now, or maybe at all. I’m not necessarily talking about Sophie’s Choice-type sacrifice, but sometimes it can feel that way. If you want to get good grades, you will probably have to forsake a few nights out with your friends. In the grand scheme of things, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but as any 21-year-old can tell you, in the moment it tends to feel torturous.
As with many other things, you can overcorrect. Have you ever met someone who won’t do something because one day it could come back and bite them? Someone who worries, constantly, that a decision made today may have serious and unfortunate ramifications in the future?
Of course you have. You’ve met me.
Way back when, I was a music and arts journalist. Among other things, I wrote about bands and plays, movies and events. I wasn’t an entertainment journalist for some boring, vapid glossy, mind you. I worked in alt-media for the late, great Hour Magazine. Among other things, this meant I could swear with impunity. And I did. A lot.
I swear a lot. I don’t mean anything by it, I just honestly don’t think that swearing is that big a deal. Swear words are just words; the word “fuck” can’t hurt you any more than the word “knife” can cut you.
Still, I’m aware that not everyone shares my view on this. I’m also quite aware how political the world is, so when I was doing my B.Ed, knowing full well that students I was teaching could easily search for and find me on the internet, I changed my online behaviour.
I stopped swearing on Twitter.
Despite the fact that I don’t teach elementary-level students anymore, I have, aside from a few exceptions, maintained my no-swearing-on-Twitter policy. I’m not reformed; the decision is completely informed by worry. I worry about reactionary parents (if I get the job I want — teaching in the J/I grade range in Toronto) making a noose out of a few salty words used in a public space (i.e. Twitter) and hanging me with it. Thing is, I’d like to think that we can collectively see the difference between a guy who may use a bad word now and again on Twitter and someone unfit to teach kids. I mean, the world is totally more interesting than black/white starkness, right?
Tim Burrows, who is doing the #30posts challenge with me, suggests that police are held to a higher standard. I tend to agree that they are, and that they should be. I also agree that teachers should be held to one. But in my case, I’m not teaching young people at present; I’m not in any role responsible for anyone who isn’t me. So, question: Can and should we hold, say, swearing on Twitter or elsewhere on the internet against someone prior to the assumption of a role they might step into in the future? If you think “yes,” let me ask you something: Wherever you are and whatever you do, should all the things you did before you took that role preclude you from being considered for that role? Could whatever you did before you became a lawyer, doctor, teacher or whatever be used against you, and, if you could conceive of it being held against you, would that be okay with you? Probably not.
I get frustrated when I think that saying a given album was “irreverant like a motherfucker” might make me an unfit teacher in some parent’s eyes, but I know all too well that sometimes, a bit of worry goes a long way towards making sure you get to where you want to be — swearing notwithstanding.
This is the second post in my #30posts challenge. Don’t know what that is? Read this.