The Overused Middle Finger: Meaningless?
It's everywhere, and is barely shocking anymore
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2010 10:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – From Lindsay Lohan to Lady Gaga to a friggin’ senator, it seems everyone is giving everyone else the finger these days. Flipping the bird has become so commonplace it’s not shocking anymore, although it still has the capacity to spawn viral videos (see left for a now-infamous BBC weatherman). The BBC apologized for that little error, but “why?” wonders Linton Weeks on NPR. “Why apologize for something that we now see just about everyday?”

The middle finger is even used in semi-positive ways, like Zac Efron’s appeal to fans to “give cancer the bird.” “As our culture becomes more narcissistic and entitled, we reject the shame that has accompanied the use of profanity in the past,” explains a professor. So how do we keep it shocking? “Give the finger with more force or make a dramatic facial expression to go with it,” suggests another professor. If all else fails, “give the finger with both hands.”