The sixth in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.
We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose. I like to refer to these as The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity. Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post. We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin, here the Pierced Vermin, here the F-Bomb Vermin, here the Texting Vermin, and here the Trashy Vermin. The sixth of the Hamsters is the Whatever Vermin.
In my family my mother was the main disciplinarian. My father was reserved for major transgressions and a word, literally, from him was sufficient to stop any misbehavior that I and my brother were up to. Looking back on my early life I truly think my mother would have made a superb trial attorney. She had a talent for ferreting out the truth that after 32 years at the bar I still envy. No amount of misdirection or obfuscation could deter her. Woe betide us if either my brother or I resorted to mendacity to conceal our misdemeanors. Mom had a special detestation for lies and whatever punishment she deemed fitting would be greatly intensified if she suspected we were less than truthful. Thus, we tended to respond to her questions, briefly and bluntly, come what may. I can only imagine how she would have reacted if we had ever uttered the word, “Whatever.” to her.
Like most of the dreadful aspects of our current culture, the use of “whatever” in its modern slang form came in with the Sixties. In 1965 it was used on the sitcoms Bewitched and My Mother the Car, oh yes, there really was a truly awful show with that title, although the usage was not the full blown insult it has since become.
“Whatever” conveys succinctly both contempt and indifference to what the other person is saying. It is a snotty retort that is basically the verbal equivalent of spitting at an interlocutor. Rather than attempting communication it is the striking of a belligerent attitude. Small wonder that in a Marist 2009 survey of the most annoying words and phrases it was voted most annoying.
With the growth of technology we are able to spend much of our lives in bubbles with little communication with others, unless we choose to have such communication with a select few. When people come out of their bubbles it should not amaze us that they react poorly to anyone having the temerity to question what they say or do. Whatever is the verbal substitute for changing the channel or clicking off a computer screen. Our tech toys allow us to pretend that we are in complete control of who we interact with, and whatever is our way of trying to impose the technology created fantasy on the real world. Thus the atomization of society proceeds apace as people we meet face to face we attempt to turn into the electronic phantoms we communicate with online.
However, perhaps I am overreacting. It is not as if people who use whatever are attempting to cheapen our daily lives. That brings us to the seventh and final hamster of the Apocalypse, the Tawdry Vermin. However, it is time for me to take my pre-nap before going to bed. Until next time.