Searching for the word “kill”

It all started because I started to wonder about a conversation I had with a friend years ago. “Kill” was the most poignant word related to the topic. Being who I am, I have logs and logs of all my online conversations. Partly to serve as reference, but also to serve as a way to time travel.

So I searched through the chatlogs for the usage of the word “kill” within a folder of chatlogs. A significant number of results popped up through the Finder search. As I flipped through each file, I became aware of one distinct thing. “Kill” was used almost jokingly like “I would kill for sushi”. Or perhaps in response to a conversation where we whined about something not going right in our lives whether it was fussy manager or a nagging parent. What dawned on me was this: I never used the word “kill”. Perhaps in contrast, I find the word strong and violent (which may say something about my friend). Rather, I just resort to feelings of “I am angry” or “I don’t like it”—statements that aren’t provocative themselves and simply are just inaction. When he did mention “kill”, I jumped to more peaceful statements like “you’re just feeling vengeful now” or “things will get better”.

Maybe it says nothing about me. That many people are like me. A bit more peaceful. I don’t know if it has anything to do with my gender where I have been shaped by society to embrace agreement and complacency. In my mind, physical violence has never made sense. Because it doesn’t do anything except express anger. It doesn’t resolve the problem. It just provokes it and leads to consequences. Even in the most flippant use of the word.

This friend though, I realize, embodies the words of violence even if they aren’t physically expressed.

But what strikes me is how the language that we use is how we express ourselves everyday. When I was young, I decided that cursing was dumb. I could use more elegant language to express frustration or anger. I used a curse word only once in my life when I wanted to make it clear to people in an emotional moment that I was very upset. But since then, I have avoided it, resorting to plain language that perhaps masks my anger constantly or curates the emotions into the world. I wonder though if I have lost something in the process.

Should I be expressing violence in my everyday language? To suggest action? Maybe it means nothing. But there’s something strange about it, to allow myself to imagine the physical violence that I so disapprove.

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