I Stopped Fucking Swearing… For a Week [NSFW]
It’s easier at work, harder at home
I was still working with Southwire when doing this experiment. The days I was working from home were pretty easy to go through without cursing because I didn’t have a lot of interactions with other people.
When going to the office, I did a pretty good job because I was paying attention to it. I usually don’t curse much at work anyways, especially since my boss was a mormon, and I guess mormons don’t swear.
My troubles started when hanging with my family and my friends. We all use “fuck” way too many times in our sentences, and I caught myself swearing several times, noticing the curse coming out of my mouth without being able to stop it. It’s just a reflex, it’s too common. Most of the time it doesn’t mean anything bad, it’s just a way to emphasize one’s point, the same way people from South of France used to say “putain con” as a period at the end of a sentence.
Some swear words are so over used they don’t have as strong of a meaning as they used to, but they still count.
My experiment would be harder than expected.
You’re a reflection of your surroundings
Are my friends a bad influence? I don’t think so. I was just more likely to curse when someone around me did.
After tracking my habits for ten days, I realized I didn’t make it through more than two days straight. But when I did, I noticed something weird: I had a hard time making a difference between my curses and other people’s swears.
Why do I think because I can’t swear, they can’t either? Let me explain.
There’s a common concept saying that babies 18 months and younger may see themselves and their mother as the same person. I didn’t know listening to someone else could make me feel like that! It’s like I was the one doing the cursing, like I was breaking the rule of my experiment! I’m not sure why I felt that way, but I guess emotional intelligence can alter the perception of oneself.
The road gets the worst out of us
You’ve all experience road rage, and you know you’re not yourself once packed into that mobile metal shield, you feel invincible like an explicit version of Captain America!
You’re ready to curse at anyone that crosses your path the wrong way, even if it’s a grandma who shouldn’t be FUCKING driving anymore!
All jokes aside, going to work meant driving two hours or more everyday. That’s a long time being stuck on Atlanta’s poorly designed highways, and let’s not talk about the limited driving abilities of some people out there. I’m not surprised knowing how easy it is to get your license in Georgia.
Nate Diaz is famous for his raw language and authenticity. That’s how he built one of the best personal brands in the UFC without even knowing it!
I made it through a week without cursing on the road, but I had close calls. I even called someone a bitch because he didn’t want me to go through and forced his way onto my lane. When did bitch become a bad word anyways? A bitch is technically just a female dog, right? Doesn’t count! At least to my standards.
Interestingly enough, a survey found that women curse more than male drivers.
The importance of swearing in the American culture
Yes, swearing is part of the American culture, that you fucking like it or not! Sorry I’m over compensating for all my past efforts…
There might have been a time when swearing was reserved for sailors, but we’ve past that since so many mainstream media have used it.
In his book Damn!: A Cultural History of Swearing in Modern America, Rob Chirico describes how cursing, which used to be seen as extremely profane, has become something common and even considered entertaining.
The best example to illustrate this point is the music industry. I did say the ENTIRE music industry, but I will focus on Hip-hop because there are stats out there to do prove my point, and it’s selling better than anything else right now (well except for Country music, and yes I love hip-hop and I’m biased…).
In the 80’s, Rap was mostly about sharing how it was like to live in a rough area while delivering a positive message. In the 90’s, it was about being the strongest. The gangsta rap became popular and came with its share of swear words. Now, rap is more about power then strength. Most rappers believe power comes from money, and having 20 cars they don’t use, and 30 bitches they don’t fuck… Did I say this blog was about cursing?
The increased usage of curse words in music led to censorship and the introduction of the”Parental Advisory Label Program” in 1985. I’m not sure what kind of impact that program has had for the past 30 years, but I do know 99% of the albums I’ve heard in my life had that sticker!
This and the over usage of beeps to cover the curses in reality shows tell me one thing: there’s a certain hypocrisy around cursing in the U.S.
We all curse, so why still having clean versions of albums? So you could listen to it around your kids? Even if 67% of the content is beeped, they’re smart enough to figure it out. Kids learn their first swear words through their parents anyways. Remember that time you forgot to replace “shit” by “shoot” and “fuck” by “fudge”?
The benefits of cursing
Yes, cursing can be good for you. It can make you more human, more relatable. The same way Dale Carnegie says talking about your own mistakes can help you change people’s ways, swearing can help you win arguments by sounding more authentic.
Here are some studies that shows the benefits of swearing:
- A personality research suggests that people who swear more score higher on traits such as extraversion, dominance, hostility and Type A personalities.
- Another study went as far as saying people who swear are “smarter”. Not sure how intelligence was measured, but at least we know the people who cursed during that study had large vocabulary abilities.
- A British study even found that office expletives might actually help boost morale.
- An experimental study investigated the effect of politicians’ profanity and gender on their perceived and actual persuasiveness. The research showed that a candidate’s use of swear words increased the perception of language informality and improved the general impression about the source.
I have to say this experiment was a failure. I broke my “vows” so many times, I didn’t last more than two days straight without swearing.
Since then, I’ve been cursing less, but I’m not putting a ban on cursing because I realize the power of it.
Curses should be use moderately but to your advantage, even at work. I tend to be focusing on my personal productivity when I’m at the office, but building relationships with coworkers is crucial. Speaking casually with them helps creating a personal bond, and that might mean using swear words every now and then.
Cursing is part of a us, par of our characters. This is how we create bonds, how we relate to each other. Cursing can be a good thing.
PS: Remember to always use your own judgment when reading studies. John Oliver recently discussed how and why media outlets so often report untrue or incomplete information as science.