We’re suckers for internet memes, God love us.

October 22, 2008 | 20 comments

This is a post about a new intertubes meme I’ve noticed–your mileage may vary–and whether it has minor moral implications. This is just my $.02. Heh.

The following phrases and their variations are getting more frequent around the internets:

Bless his heart.
God love ‘em.
Bless ‘em.
Lord love us.
Heaven help us.
God save us.

The first four show amused affection for stupid or inexplicable behavior. The last two express (mock?) horror. They all have an antique and southern flavor. They have more than a whiff of hipster irony about them, like Hollywood stars with trucker caps. They also explicitly or implicitly call on God. And they’re right in my wheelhouse.

Assume as I do that its blasphemous and vain to use God, Lord, Christ, etc. as interjections. So I can’t go around OMGing on the internet, even if I wanted. Can I go around blessing hearts, or would heaven forfend?

20 Responses to We’re suckers for internet memes, God love us.

  1. Julie M. Smith on October 22, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Hm. I probably wouldn’t use 2, 4, or 6 because of the slippery slope to frivolous use, but I wouldn’t be as irked if others used them as I am by their use of, well, you know, other common methods of disrespect.

  2. TomRod on October 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Does the person saying what their saying mean what their saying? It’s all about intent, right? Judged on the action, thought, and intent?

    I doubt that Heavenly Father would like a word the represents Him to become a byword, or used frivolously.

    Other thoughts?

  3. TomRod on October 22, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Ahh. Please ignore obvious grammatical and spelling errors.

  4. Jonovitch on October 22, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Talk about timing!


    Sweet. LOL


  5. Peter LLC on October 22, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    If it turns out in the end that the heavens do forfend, all those who take “good bye” into their mouths without a second thought will no doubt end up the worse offenders.

  6. Tatiana on October 23, 2008 at 7:34 am

    I agree with Peter LLC’s comment 5. Also, don’t forget that all the people who say gosh, by golly, gah, and sheesh are using interjections whose etymology comes directly from blasphemous usage as well. The difference is that they don’t sound blasphemous in the least, and aren’t meant that way. I’ll go by intent on this one. I use OMG to mean “oh my gosh” in ims and texts, and I’m fairly sure the people reading me would know that’s what I meant.


    I really wanted to comment on the hydra post, and it feels frustrating to have comments cut off before I even have read a post, much less thought it through and come up with a response. I’m in US Eastern Time lately, and was probably sleeping before this got posted last night. People from Europe and all over are reading T+S and in some cases haven’t seen a post until 12 or 20 hours after its posted. It just seems like everyone should have an equal chance to participate regardless of geography. Am I the only one who feels that way? Obviously, I still sustain T+S permabloggers as the ones with stewardship to decide these things.

  7. Bookslinger on October 23, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Here’s what one could do in that situation (#6): On your own blog, cross-post (or link to) KLS’s original post, cross-post (or link to) any comments that you want to address, then add your own comments. WordPress and Blogspot/Blogger now basically provide free publishing.

    I wonder what are the exclamations/interjections that are safe to use, such as would not offend the pious, and don’t derive from names or references to deity? What would be safe to say in front of apostles and prophets?

    My first sojourn into Utah was at the MTC. There I heard 19 year olds use swear words that were new to me. I never heard such words used in that way in the Midwest, and didn’t know any youngish Utahans in my first two years in the church. I could tell they were swear words because the usage, the delivery, the emotional projection, the context were all the same as when I had used swear words before I joined the church. The only difference was a new vocabulary, as in a new language.

    I couldn’t get across to them that when they said “flip” in the same way and in the same context that the rest of the world uses the more worldly exclamation, I automatically translated it and heard the more worldly version in my head every time they said “flip”. Like automatically translating “hola” into “hello”. I don’t think I ever blew up, but part of me wanted to pound the desk and scream “___ ____ it! If you MEAN ‘____’ you might as well SAY ‘___’. “

  8. Brian W on October 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks, Adam. This reminds me of my mission to Mexico. 99% of the time when we’d invite someone to church, the response was “Si Dios quiere” – direct translation: if God wants, or God willing. My answer to this was always “of course he’s willing.” My Mexican companions were often confused by this.

  9. Jonovitch on October 23, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Tatiana (6), I agree — an 8-hour window doesn’t seem sporting. I was very surprised to see the other thread closed this morning, when just about every comment was informative and polite. Kathryn, if you’re out there, any chance of re-opening the Prop 8 discussion?

    David (http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4821#comment-276413) if you’re out there, I took no offense — humor is so hard to transfer through text sometimes. :)

    And Mayan Elephant (http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4821#comment-276416) if you’re out there, the first thing I noticed upon re-reading my comment this morning was my ghastly typo. I’m embarrassed. (And sad that I can’t correct it on the same page — hint, hint, Kathryn?)

    And finally to Adam (hi again!) — I apologize for threadjacking, but Kathryn had to make dinner and closed the comments. ;) Besides I already posted a worthwhile comment here, and that should balance it out, right? (Don’t zap me, please!)


    P.S. Bookslinger (7), sometimes I try to say “rats” or “oh no” (which sometimes comes out as “oh boy”) instead of invoking a variant of Deity as a curse. I think I heard something about President Kimball avoiding all forms of expletives, regardless of how benign they might seem on their face. Total hearsay (don’t quote me on it, I have no source), but I like the philosophy anyway — it works for me. (See a relevant comment to the thread!)

  10. Adam Greenwood on October 23, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    My inner comment deleter is getting restive, chickadees. Lay off Kathryn LS and her thread.

    “Si Dios quiere” was also very common in Spain, and mostly meaningless. I think its originally a hispanicization of the Arabic Inshallah.

    I’ve never had a problem with saying ‘gosh’ and things like that, though they sound juvenile.

  11. Jonovitch on October 23, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks, Adam! Have a great Thursday afternoon, gosh darnit!


  12. Tatiana on October 23, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    And I forgot “zounds” is originally from “God’s wounds”. In all the many times I’ve said that, I don’t think I’ve ever intended it as blasphemy. I hope I never wounded anyone’s delicate sensibilities here with it. =)

    I read in some 19th century novel, perhaps it was Anthony Trollope, where one gentleman swore “You can go to the d___l!” and the publisher spaced it out like that. When I realized they were protecting me from having to read strong language like that, I was seriously glad, and I felt relieved and protected (laughs). I’m so glad there’s still such thing as polite society, where people do care about things like this.

  13. Ivan Wolfe on October 23, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    When I say “Frack” I mean “Frack” and I don’t mean any other word, regardless of what anyone else may think. “Frack” is what I mean and all I mean. It is not a euphemism for anything. It is what it is.

  14. Kent Larsen on October 23, 2008 at 6:14 pm


    I grant that your intentions are pure.

    But communication requires that both the speaker and the hearer agree on a roughly common meaning for a word.

    I can’t arbitrarily say that the word “prison” refers to a paradisiacal place and expect others to get that same meaning (or expect that they won’t get that meaning if they hear me muttering to myself) without some kind of explanation.

    Like it or not, the most common use of “Frak is as a substitute for the F-word, popularized on the TV show “Battlestar Galactica.”

    And, Tatiana, I’m afraid the same thing is true for OMG (although to a lesser degree — not everyone agrees about what the G in OMG refers to. But the most common meaning is certainly taking the name of the Lord in vain).

  15. Kent Larsen on October 23, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Now that I think about it, ‘Frak’ is quite interesting. As far as I know, its the only widely-known (outside of Mormonism) profanity invented by a Mormon!

  16. Ivan Wolfe on October 23, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Yes, but notice I use the old school 1979 spelling of frack, which is a 5 letter word, and was used by school children in the old series. The teachers and adults never responded with shock, and its usage seemed to be considered quite acceptable by all levels of society.

  17. Bookslinger on October 24, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Ivan, If you use a word with the same emotion, delivery, tone of voice, and context, that all the individuals who use a particular word use when they use their word, then your word essentially equates to their word.

    Words have spirit, and essentially are spirit things, because the spoken sounds (sound waves) or written scripts (ink on paper, or scratchings on wood/metal) are merely tags attached to a concept, and it is the concept that is essential to the thing’s meaning, not the tag.

    I’d even venture that the emotion and spirit projected by the speaker give more weight to the meaning of his spoken words than mental intent or literal definitions.

  18. Ivan Wolfe on October 24, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Perhaps I should have used a smiley face.

    Leaving aside your tone of self-righteous condemnation, and going to my tone, I always say “frack” as a joke, and never as an expletive. I don’t use it as a cuss word – I use it more as a way to signal to others I’m a Battlestar Galactica fan.

  19. Tatiana on October 24, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Bookslinger, is it really that simple? Is your maiden aunt’s use of foo or fiddlesticks the same as, say, Richard Nixon’s frequent expletives deleted from the white house transcripts? I don’t think it is, quite. I think there’s a clear distinction in the way we feel about those, and what meanings people hear.

    I had occasion to hang out with a group of friends who served as correctional officers. They all used the most foul language constantly as a matter of course, so that it was robbed of all power or emphasis. What they meant by “m… f…” was roughly what I mean by “guy”, for example. Are they swearing or not? To them it was completely ordinary. But I couldn’t help but feel it indicated a lack of respect, at least. It made me uncomfortable, anyway. Worst of all is when those words began to pop into my head to use myself, if not caught in time by my internal filter. I didn’t like it and I wished they would clean it up, at least around me. But all I did was pretend not to hear or notice, and try to be careful not to slip myself.

    I feel like swearing just sounds trashy. Not particularly evil but just ill-spoken, disrespectful of those around, and of the speaker as well. To me it indicates low standards in general. But is this a real moral difference between us or just a class distinction? I’m not really 100% positive.

  20. Bookslinger on October 24, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Ivan: “Doht.” Sorry.

    Tatiana: I think the emotional context/projection works the other way too. A benign word used poisonously, or a poisonous word used benignly. I once heard a female expatriate in another country sitting in a restaurant publicly use a local swear-phrase as an interjection. I don’t think she would have used it had she known the literal meaning, or the etymology.

    I almost did a spit-take when I heard it from a female voice.

    I went to a military school for a while, and we had a joke about going home for vacations, and saying “pass the ____ peas” at your family’s dinner table, and wondering why everyone is looking at you strangely.


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