I’m sure you’ve had to hear them out.  In fact, one of them is probably standing right near you or might even be found sleeping in your bed.  I’m talking about “Fatalistic What Iffers” and they live their lives through the harrowing, self-imposed, terror of the “What If” that they press upon you in every waking moment.


“Fatalistic What Iffers” take an ordinary situation and turn it into a tragic, cosmic, event using imagination and invention:

YOU:  Sorry I’m late for dinner.  My car stalled on the highway.

IFFER:  Isn’t that remarkable.  What if you’d been rear-ended?  What if you’d stepped out of your car and weren’t seen and were hit by an oncoming truck?  When you leave your car, do you check your rear view mirror and your blind spot before exiting? 

YOU:  I just ran out of gas.

IFFER:  Isn’t that lucky!  Imagine if you’d had a full tank and been crushed by a falling boulder.  Your entire car would’ve burst into flames and you’d be covered in salve to try to save your skin.

YOU:  I was only five minutes late for dinner.

FWIF:  Sure, but what if you’d had to go the hospital for emergency spinal surgery after getting hit by a car and crushed by a boulder?  You’d never be able to walk again and then you’d catch pneumonia and lose your voice and then I’d have no one to talk to as I took care of you in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

“Fatalistic What Iffers” are annoying and there’s no way to remove them from your life.

Even suggesting they are madly insane only feeds their glory:

YOU:  Don’t ever speak to me again.  You blow everything out of proportion!

IFFER:  Oh, you’d just love that, wouldn’t you, mister?  Well, I’m telling you I’m not going anywhere because without me, you’d be dead in the gutter and animals would be tearing at your flesh.  You’re lucky to have me!  I’m your good luck charm!

“Fatalistic What Iffers” are not limited to your personal life. 

You find them in business, too:

YOU:  I sealed the deal and signed the client. 

IFFER:  What if they hadn’t signed?  You’d be down the toilet, my friend!

YOU:  Yeah, but they did sign.

IFFER:  Yeah, but if they DIDN’T… you’d be done here.  Fired.  Living in the street.  Living off Welfare.

The most dangerous kind of “Fatalistic What Iffers” reside in the government and live in the darkness as professional politicos and policy-makers.

Those “Fatalistic What Iffers” thrive in paranoia and are constructed in telling lies they believe are real and beyond the realm of the “What If?”

US:  We’re sure glad Saddam didn’t have Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

IFFER:  Oh, but what if he gave them to Iran?  We better go there, too, and not find Saddam’s WMDs in Iran just to be safe, eh?

US:  Don’t we need proof first?

IFFER:  Proof of what?  Their lies?  They’re lying right now!  We can go in there and bomb them just for lying.  Nobody lies to the United States of America and gets away with it, and if they do, their deaths are on them, not us, because we know what we know — and what we think we know — and there’s no “what if” we’re wrong because we’re never wrong, right? 

US:  I think we’re getting a headache.

IFFER:  Of course we are!  We’ve probably been poised by a chemical attack from Terrorists.  They’re all around us, you know.  We might just be infected with a virus that takes 10 years to kill us.  We’d never catch the No Good Doers from our deathbeds, so we better annihilate any suspects now just to be safe we catch them before we die.  What if the virus doesn’t activate in 10 years, but 10 minutes?  Then where would we be?  Where’s my gun?  Who put a ponytail on my nuke-u-lur bomb?

How do these “Fatalistic What Iffers” gain traction in our personal lives an take hold of our national agenda?

Why are we unable to shut down their wild paranoia with the calm reality of cooler heads?

Are the “Fatalistic What Iffers” dangerous power seekers that make dimension by creating — and then “perceiving” — invisible threats that do not exist except in the invention of their mind?

Why do we listen to the “Fatalistic What Iffers” in the first place?  What empty, bottomless, pit are they fulfilling in our private wellsprings and national conscience?

14 Comments

  1. And the ultimate WHATIF must be the lipstick pit bull – what if McCain has a heart attack …..
    To the people of America – Please Make sure that ultimate “what if” has no chance of happening.

  2. Hi Nicola!
    Right! She’s a dumber and more malleable GWBush — and she is only interested in being right and not knowing anything she doesn’t already feel she knows!
    Having her even in the VP slot means the Neocons are back in power and they will control and determine her every decision: Religion will be back in schools, Creationism will be required teaching, abortion will no longer be a legal option and stem cell research will be forced into abandonment.
    They’re making the election a cultural war, though — it’s the dirtiest and lowest possible play they have left… and it’s working…

  3. If you recognize them you avoid them, David. Don’t hang out with them and don’t work for them. If they lead you then we’re in trouble. Our national policy is all built on what if.

  4. Right, Anne, we’re a nation of “What Iffers” and we elect our leaders based on those irrational fears. How did we get here and how the heck do we get out? It can’t just be “don’t do that” because that’s a trap of impossibility from which there is no escape.

  5. Much as we turn on our heel when we hear stories of false illness, we simply make any excuse to get away and do it! If not possible, mentally escape. Remember that the person will not be happy no matter what and that he or she is a Debbie Downer and that you may as well just pretend they are talking about puppies.

  6. That’s a good point, Gordon, that they thrive on creating these tragic fantasies. They are not happy unless they are the center of an imploding world they live to create. I find them terribly bothersome because they never quit. They just keep going and going as if the sound of their own worry makes their irrational claims truer. They mistake invention for intelligence.

  7. Hi David,
    These “what iffers” just drain one’s energy – be in personal life, or in professional or in national politics.
    It is relatively easier to brush off the “what iffers” in personal life and also in professional arena – but if a nation is navigated by “what iffers” then it becomes trouble.

  8. Hi David,
    I’m glad i don’t know any such morbidly fatalistic people! of course, one can be like that without resorting to that particular semantic construct.