How did the word “whatever” become the new “F-You?” Why is “Whatever” the poster boy for uniting public passive-aggressive behavior?
“Whatever” is the universal insult, the worldly expression of utter disdain, and the one word that condemns the user more than the recipient.
How did we move from “Yo Mamma!” to “F-You” to “Whatevs?”
Who invented “Whatever” as the response to any inquiry or order or statement of fact?
Young people seem to be full-on the “Whatever” train, and when that word is used against me as a cudgel, I always respond with a question.
“What do you mean?”
They look at me askance because no one questions “Whatever” because “Whatever” is the Alpha and the Omega. “Whatever” is start and stop and sun and moon and God of War and Prince of Peace all at the same time. “Whatever” is both definition and explanation.
In their silence, I ask again.
“When you said — ‘Whatever’ — what did you mean?”
I know the question is unanswerable for them — and that’s why I ask. I want them to think about what they’re saying.
I’ve never met anyone who can actually explain what they mean by invoking the “Whatever” card. They can’t explain — and will never explain — because to explain is to reveal their real intentions without the “Whatever” cover to mask their cruel thoughts and inappropriate wants.
Usually, the answer to my question is provided in a shoulder shrug or in a silent turning around and walking away. Argument won. Point taken.
The only way to defeat the colloquial usage of “Whatever” and “Whatevs” — and fingers bent or hands folded into a “W” indicator — is to call out the obvious insult and make the invoker own up to their rotten attitude and bad behavior.
Dare them to define what they really mean. Poke the “Whatever” power play right back in their eye and press it back down their throats so they can get a vision of, and a taste of, their own, rotting, bile in action.
Together, we can make “Whatever” harmless and extinct and undefined as it wants to be, and we can relegate “Whatever” back to the trash heap of historic hip-talk where it always belonged.