Swearing is bad! That is what I thought too. When I recently started to date someone who was swearing a lot, I decided to educate him. My thinking is, I could never introduce somebody to my mom who swears a lot, plus in my circle of friends, it isn’t common either. The truth is, my biggest fear is, that I start to take on this bad habit, and that, in the middle of a keynote presentation or workshop, I drop the F-bomb or the c-word. So, is swearing bad? So I started my mission to collect facts on why swearing is wrong.
Warning: Swear words are used in writing this article.
Here is what I discovered. (And I hate to say it), I was wrong. Swearing may be impolite in some circles, but it doesn’t appear to be bad at all. As a matter of fact; I struggled to find a respected website that condemned swearing. Trust me; I did my best.
That makes the real question why does it bother me so much? It is not the first time in my life I have come across people for whom swearing was part of their daily language. I remember working in a hotel in London and one of the chefs could not complete one sentence without a swear word. Think a turbocharged Gordon Ramsey.
Why do people swear?
It turns out; there are a few solid reasons to be swearing.
- Swearing is often used to express emotions such as anger, surprise, and frustration.
- Some taboo words are used in jokes. In these situations, these words serve a positive outcome.
- Swearing is used in arguments. I am sure you have been in an argument where swearing is used as some form of aggression and intimidation. Here is a challenge for you. Have you ever tried to replace a taboo swear word that expresses anger, contempt, and distaste for something that is polite and non-taboo? That is difficult.
Some people swear more than others
The fact some people swear more than other is probably not news to you: Some people swear more than others. Researchers have found that it happens more in specific social groups such as soldiers, police officers juvenile delinquents, and college students. How much you swear is also influenced by your social ranking as well as personality. People who are more hostile, who experience sexual anxiety and are low on religious beliefs are more likely to swear.
Messages in Water
I always remember the story of messages in water. In his book and Documentary called “The Hidden message in Water”, Dr Masaru Emoto demonstrates the impact of emotions, words, and music on water crystals. It turns out that feelings, words, and music influence the health of your body. The impact of positive and negative words has since then also been tested on Rice.
It is worth it to check out some of the links. In summary, though, positive words encourage growth and health. Negative words and negative emotions cause rot and can destroy.
The conclusion from that is that, because swearing is bad and taboo and is often associated with negative emotions, this must mean that people who swear a lot enhance rot and decay in their body.
I wasn’t satisfied. The theory described above implies that swearing is bad for you. But is swearing bad?
Swearing is wrong, right?
Earlier on we identified that swearing is dependent on factors such as personality, social group, and social ranking. Lauren Mcleod in her research paper titled “Swearing in the Tradie Environment as a Tool For Solidarity,” writes that Australian “tradies” often use swearing as a “means of building and maintaining rapport among co-workers, as well as a means of differentiating themselves from the rest of society”. Lauren also goes on to say that “The social meaning of swear words, such as fuck and cunt, have over time shifted from their offensive nature to having a more rapport-building function within a certain context.”
By this stage, my arguments for correcting profound swearing were blown entirely out of the water. The guy I was dating was FIFO (fly in fly out for those who don’t know), he worked at a mining site 2-1 (two weeks away, one week back at home). A classic environment I would say for tradies and, based on Lauren McLeod’s paper, also the perfect setting for swearing. I got it. He fitted in with the boys; it just didn’t fit in with me.
His swearing wasn’t the problem
The truth is, my opinion was based on prejudice, and I was judging the other person based on my view of what is right and wrong. Swearing is not necessarily bad for you at all. However, you need to be aware of the context and social environments.
It is so easy to judge others, and it can be difficult to accept the habits of others that don’t fit in with your view of the world.
Many of my clients are successful in their careers and are looking for ways to improve their relationships, be a better partner and improve their lives together. It often means changing their point of view, making them more adaptable and understanding.
Is swearing bad for your health?
I guess this question is left unanswered. Let’s think about the rice experiment? Would rice respond the same in an experiment to swear words by tradies for whom curse words is a positive way to build rapport? Who knows, it would be an exciting experiment to complete.
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