For the fifth year in a row, the word “Whatever “is considered the most annoying word for 2013. This is generally a non-event for the most part but it does say something very important about our culture. This very annoying word, that does not seem to go away, is a dismissive term that defines the psychic of a whole generation who have grown up with the internet, gaming, social media and all while being bombarded by advertising.
Statistical data does not often predict cultural changes, more often - pop culture and social networks provide us with hints about what our future holds and it’s my contention that “Whatever” is just one of many small indicators that are telling us that a whole new generation has lost its trust in the daily information barrage …or has it gained a new filter for recognizing what is trustworthy or of real interest?
The next generation has evolved to have the capacity to filter out the barrage of junk information floated in the various media and social media every day. Declarative or all-encompassing terms like “gridlock” or “fiscal cliff” are meant to dumb down ideas for mass consumption. We see this in virtually all forms of communications. The sound bite, the video clip, the Tweet, have all become over simplifications of thoughts and ideas. Maybe younger people today have gradually been able to tune in this new filter ….and when an idea is interesting to them they go deeper but otherwise it’s …”What Ever!”
I even find myself saying “Whatever” more often, especially if you count the times that I feel that way but simply use other terms to make the same commentary. Does this mean I am beginning to apply this filter? I think of it as the amphibian’s second eyelid that protects while maintaining visibility. It’s an evolutionary adaptation and perhaps this is what is at work here as we seek to adapt to ever increasing flow and archive of information.
I have used the word archive, very deliberately since in today’s world, immediate information is usually not the most trustworthy and perhaps some sobering second thought allows us to access information ‘on-demand” when we want, how we want and from a more trustworthy source.
Maybe “Whatever” is not just an annoying word but idea whose time has come.