How Profanity Can Hurt You

You get angry, so you swear, right? Where is the harm? Well, studies show that colourful language isn’t as harmless as you think.

"No Swearing" sign along Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach, Virginia (Ben Schumin)
“No Swearing” sign along Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach, Virginia (Ben Schumin)
BY PHILL FELTHAM

Have you ever watched a movie where swearing seems to occur constantly? Have you ever wondered how many swear words are in your favourite movies?

Some of my favourite movies were Kevin Smith’s Dogma (100 f-words) and American Pie (50 f-words) . Most recently, Oscar winning movies such as American Sniper and Birdman both have over 100 f-bombs. Hey, I am not making these facts up, nor am I taking the time to sit through these movies to jot down the number of times these characters are dropping f-bombs to prove a point. (Although, I do appreciate the boys over at http://www.pluggedin.ca for doing the swear word count.)

Why is using a myriad of profane words even necessary? When I ask this question to other persons, I stand in astonishment over their answers. Dogma and American Pie are easy explanations. Each movie contains no real substance in terms of content. Although, in Dogma, I could appreciate some of Kevin Smith’s thoughts on religion; however, the repetitious swearing prevented his message from truly coming across effectively.

My answer to watching Dogma and American Pie was: “I enjoy the movies”. For myself, the insults and the swearing were simply funny. No real reason necessary. Those who didn’t appreciate the movies. Whatever. For those who spoke outwardly about it, “prudes”.

Oscar winners such as Birdman and American Sniper are a little trickier. Some movies might supposedly need the swear words in order to mirror reality. For example, many military movies, such as American Sniper, use profanity to illustrate soldiers at war. Admittedly, soldiers fighting for their lives are less concerned with their verbiage and more concerned about staying alive. However, most of us watching these movies are not soldiers, and we are not fighting for our lives. The point is: where do you draw the line?

SWEARING DOES DAMAGE

#1
PROFANITY IS COMMONPLACE
According to Time Magazine, roughly 0.7 percent of the words used from a person is profanity. Imagine a conversation with someone who uses three percent profanity; Eddie Murphy, the famous actor from 48 Hours and Shrek, can now take a bow.

#2
SWEARING HURTS KIDS
According to Time Magazine, children—even toddlers—often learn a four letter word before learning the alphabet.

#3
PROFANITY PROMOTES LAZINESS
Think about it. If every other word used is profane, a person doesn’t really give him or herself the opportunity to expand his or her vocabulary. As a journalist, I sometimes struggle to pinpoint the exact usage of words when writing articles.

#4
PROFANITY HINDERS COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Some people can only communicate effectively using four letter words. When I am emotionally charged, I often have a hard time communicating vital information to my spouse. My mind automatically connects to profanity instead of other less offensive words. Additionally, profanity, offensive in nature, causes many people not to fully listen to the offender’s vital information.

HOW TO STOP USING PROFANE WORDS

#1
FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
According to WikiHow, finding an accountability partner can prove helpful in keeping your not-so-pleasant words in check.

#2
AVOID TRIGGERS
Avoid triggers that cause you to swear. Movies that use a myriad of swear words keeps these cuss words in your mind as well as gives you the notion that swearing is acceptable. Other suggestions would be to leave thirty minutes earlier to avoid rush hour, and, if possible, walk away from a project that is causing you too much strife.

#3
REFLECT ON YOUR WORDS
After ’slip up’, reflect on the words that you just said, and think of ways (write them down) on how can alter your response more effectively in the future.

#4
USE ALTERNATIVE WORDS
Find other ways to communicate your message. This is harder during emotional experiences, but this is wear it matters most. I love this one. This has been a tried-and-true method for me. Use words or phrases such as “poop”, “darn”, “forget that”, and the ever famous, “shut the front door”. Eventually, attempt to replace the aforementioned words and phrases using more sophisticated verbiage.

#5
WORK AT IT
My attempts to reform my profanity usage has taken years. It’s a skill that doesn’t come over night, particularly if it is commonplace or if you use it to alleviate intense emotions. But, I believe in you. You can do it.

Advertisements