I apparently use the word so a lot, especially when beginning sentences. I never notice.
What I also never knew, is that it's a common thing with engineers and the like.
When I asked Kittu Kolluri what he though of his first encounter with Jim Clark, he thought for a moment and then said, 'So ...' This was not unusual. When a computer programmer answers a question, he often begins with the word 'so.' Chapter 5, The New New thing - Michael Lewis
Who knew. It wasn't just me being annoying. Now I feel far happier to not be bothered by this.
'So' cuts across borders within the computing class just as 'like' cuts across boarders within the class of adolescent girls. It's the most distinctive verbal tic manufactured by the engineering mind, Silicon Valley engineers for who English is a second or even third language acquire it as readily as native speakers. Nobody knows why. some say that 'so' imposes the semblance of logic on an essentially illogical event, human conversation. After all 'so' implies that the answer follows directly from the question. Others claim that 'so' just buys you time to think.
I have a distinctive verbal tic. Yay me.