The key to cussing is knowing your audience

It has come to my attention that I have the mouth of a sailor. I’m not sure how it happened. I certainly don’t have any sailor friends and have never been one for navigating the seas, but for some reason, I can’t stop cussing like one. The person who brought this shocking news to my attention was none other than my own 10-year-old sister, who was dismayed at my utterance of the F-word when some dude cut me off on the freeway.

It was at that moment I realized I never notice when I let the F-word slip. Has it come to the point where this word has built a little home in my psyche? I figured it was time to understand what compels me to cuss rather than just letting these bombs drop like crazy.

I can’t recall when I let out my first curse word, but I’m sure it was invigorating. There is just something about the utility of curse words that makes them so easy to drop. I can use them as any part of speech whenever I need or so wish to. Swear words can be used descriptively, figuratively, abusively and for emphasis.

I think, like myself, most people cuss out of frustration or pain. For example, when I stub my tiny toes on the rock hard coffee table, it is almost instant that I drop a nicely placed “f**k!” This is known as cathartic swearing. According to a study from Keele University, using swear words when in pain actually reduces the amount of pain. The study also found that using more vulgar curse words can actually have a greater numbing effect rather then using a word like damn.

The second most common use of profanity is in social settings. A study by the University of East Anglia found that cussing in the workplace can in fact help you make friends. Dropping the occasional F-bomb can band together coworkers who have similar frustrations, which makes it acceptable. I can see how that works in the classroom as well. Friendships can simply be created when you’re sitting in class annoyed by the amount of assignments. You say, “This is bulls**t!” Someone is bound to turn around and agree with you. Then bam, best friends forever.

In all situations, the key to cussing is knowing your audience. Let loose when it’s comfortable to do so, but keep in mind who may be lurking behind you, for they may feel disrespected by your language. That person may even be your sweet 10-year-old sister.