Being Bad or Being Human?

I wouldn’t call myself a bad person. On the scale I think I’m pretty average. I hold the door for others, I thank the bus driver – when I remember to. I’m ready with a smile. I remember my p’s and q’s, I’m polite and for the most part I don’t swear. There’s no effing and blinding for me. I don’t hold with it, I don’t believe in it, I don’t want to say it, I don’t want to hear it. But sometimes. Sometimes it rolls off my tongue. It’s a clear indicator of my state of mind. I’m no stranger to looking upward and yelling ‘really!?!’ in a fit of frustration but push me too far and you might be on the recieving end of some less eloquent language. Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t remember the last time I swore at someone. My invective usually stems from anger at technology not working, giving myself a papercut or tripping unnecesarily. Although I’m far from championing the swearing cause there is a part of me, despite my consistent attempts to curb my language, that thinks this is part of being human. Cursing doesn’t make me a bad person, it makes me just like any other member of the human race.

Interestingly, swearing isn’t always a bad thing; despite what we are taught growing up. Studies down at Keele University found that foul language can work as an anaesthetic particularly for those who don’t usually swear. A group of volunteers were asked to put their hands in buckets of ice cold water whilst swearing as opposed to the other group whose hands were similiarly abused with no ameliorating effect. For those who uttered expletives during the experiment found the scenario was less painful. Scientists believe that the anaesthetic effect occurs because cursing triggers our ‘flight or fight’ response. Those who swore experienced accelerated heart rates indicative of increased aggression which is classic of the fight or flight response.

Despite the apparent pain-relief effects of swearing I would by no means recommend it. Swearing and verbal aggression remain signs of violence and should be minimised in society. It can lead to harmful psychological effects to whomever our invective is directed it. It encouragesan environment of tension. Swearing is an example of anti-social behaviour. So what’s the message at the end of this tirade? Choose when you swear. Isolated occurences of swearing, particularly in certain situations, can help eleviate pain. Anything that stops me flinching in agony gets the thumbs up from me but let’s not make this a habit.


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