This relatively new phrase seems benign, and even seems like the answer to relieving a lot of our stresses. “Which movie do you want to see?” Whatever. “Are you upset about something?” Whatever. “Should Romney disclose his tax forms?” Whatever. It seems that now, when you ask someone for an opinion or a choice, “whatever” is the most prevalent answer. It takes away responsibility from the responder, and makes her or him seem laid back and easy-going. But I would argue it causes more problems than it solves. In my opnion, this one-word verbal shrug masks an alarming and growing apathy among us. A refusal to take a stand on anything, big or little, may feel good for a second; but the consequences can be huge. It can leave you feeling resentful: didn’t the other person realize that when I said “whatever” I really wanted him or her to read my mind and figure out what I was thinking?? The attitude behind this common utterance can also lead to social, political or economic consequences.
At this point, my kids, if they are reading this, are rolling their eyes. Uh oh, she’s on the “your generation is so apathetic it’s ridiculous” kick again. Don’t worry, darlings, you are in good company- my generation is dropping the ball too. We are all so overwhelmed with our own daily lives that big things seem out of our control; so we just blow off tackling them. Many of us have come to embrace the “I’m just a little fish in a big bowl; what can one person do?” line of thinking. Where is the outrage over political decisions that affect us on a daily basis? I think we all feel that pronouncements from “above” are out of our control or ability to change. So we mumble our disgust over drinks, and go on with our lives. Or we stage small, aimless, basically useless protests that get laughed at or ignored by the media. In the 60’s the draft program gave energy to the Vietnam War protests that helped end that war. I’m a little afraid of what it might take to change our current course, which in my opinion is a fast track to some serious and unforseen consequences. Sorry if I sound like an alarmist, but you have to see my point. There is a shit storm going on out there, and we are sticking our fingers in our ears and closing our eyes and hoping, like two-year-olds, that if we can’t see or hear it then it doesn’t really exist or matter or affect us. Here is a recent article that illustrates this well, and is worth reading all the way to the end: http://news.yahoo.com/americans-tune-afghan-war-fighting-rages-185225577.html
Wow, I really went off there! Just sayin’ how I really feel…but back to that wonderful “W” word- Whatever happened to stating how you feel and what you think, and communicating and negotiating to a satisfactory result? I just read that last sentence again and realized it contains a sort of pun, if you read with a period instead of a question mark :). We abdicate a responsibility to ourselves if we stop working towards compromise or participating in making a choice. I think unless you really don’t care and are sure that you won’t feel resentful, you should not use this word in social decision-making. It is way overused these days. What do you think? I know some of you, in your mind, are saying “whatever.”