Gongol.com Archives: May 2024

Brian Gongol

May 16, 2024

News Tastefully put

Words go in and out of fashion for a variety of social reasons. But one word that's overdue for a revival is "tasteful". ■ Taylor Swift's song "Down Bad", which peaked at #2 in the Billboard Hot 100, manages to make use of the oft-forbidden "F" word 17 times in just over four minutes of airplay. Pornography and brain worms are at the center of the political universe. The world's third-richest person is reveling in the joys of stirring up trouble. ■ Tasteful behavior may be hard to define precisely, but it generally consists of doing things that won't seem regrettable later on. How much later? How regrettable? That may vary. In general, though, tastefulness is really just voluntary restraint from the maximalist approach in all things. ■ But it's silly to reject the idea that we can think far enough ahead to demonstrate tasteful restraint. People make long-term decisions all the time. Suppose we were to apply seven years as a standard: Could people reasonably hold themselves to a standard of behavior that would reflect well on them after seven years of time passes? ■ Seven years seems like a lot until it is compared to other guideposts. A seven-year-old child is generally in first grade. The average passenger vehicle has been on the road for 12 years. The median stay in an owner-occupied home is 13 years. ■ Thus it really isn't that great a stretch to ask people to think ahead, particularly if they're in the practice of doing so. And that comes back to the question of whether there is a social expectation to behave in tasteful ways. If tastefulness is a standard matter of habit, then it becomes self-perpetuating. If it falls away, then perhaps its only ticket back is for people to grow tired of the regrets and push the expectation back into place.

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