''I don't give a fuck''. The mantra of apathy. So proudly proclaimed by so many. Yet, there is an air of desperation to the statement. Something's not right. Why tell me that you don't give a fuck? What am I supposed to take from that? Am I supposed to be impressed? Is it really necessary for you to tell me how much you don't care? Ok, maybe I'm over-reacting. They are only 5 words after all. And i'm sure I've uttered them at many times myself. Yet, there is something I have often noticed in the eyes and voices of the speaker when the famous words are spoken. The eyes seem to widen a bit. Sometimes the speaker uses hand movements, gesturing toward the self, as if to clarify that it is definitely them who does not 'give a fuck'. The slight tremor in the speaker's voice indicate that the words are being carried by a certain amount of emotion. And why keep repeating it? I heard you the first time. Are you even listening to me? Hello?... Of course, it is good advice to command a healthy amount of indifference in life. If we allowed ourselves to be worried about everyone and everything, we would decay all the quicker. However, to overestimate our ability to be unscathed by the trials and tribulations of modern life is probably just as regressive.
I began thinking about this the other day whilst skimming over Facebook. During this all too regular act I took note of a new Facebook group calling itself ‘You cannot fathom the immensity of the fuck I do not give’. Upon further investigation, I was unsurprised to see that the group had received approval from over 500,000 users. Knowing that one should never seek to make too much sense out of Facebook and its’ environs, I just couldn’t leave it lie. Of all the places to profess the degree of one’s ‘don’t give a fuck’ attitude, Facebook seems like a strange choice. Like one great big scrabble for attention, Facebook is founded on the premise that people can advertise themselves to others (where else would I publish this blog?). Not lending itself to traditional ‘you can count your true friends on one hand’ philosophy, Facebook perpetuates the growth of an ever elaborate global network where one has access to an ever present audience of ‘Friends’ waiting to respond to whatever it is one wants to say or do. In a nutshell, it is the attention seeker’s dream come through. I recently heard someone expressing the idea that Facebook, Twitter and other internet based networking might serve to eclipse ‘old world’ prejudices such as ultra nationalism and racism, the idea being that hyper communication would render these concepts obsolete and meaningless. Without wanting to discount the notion, the sheer volume of emptiness evident in cyberspace seems to suggest that such an occurrence would be painfully slow. It appears as though we have to first wait for people to express harmony with the universal philosophy of ‘not giving a fuck’ and other important issues.
The reason for so many people being attracted to this sentiment of indifference is probably because they are anything but care-free about how other people see them. As social animals, relation and connection to other people is a fundamental part of our make-up. Individually, our lives are coloured through a quest for companionship. In infancy, we develop intimate relationships with our parents. As children and young adults, one of our primary concerns is the acquisition of friends and acquaintances. We also begin a new search for intimacy with romantic partners. As adults, we often work for ourselves and our families to become members of the wider community. The ability to communicate and form relationships with others, generally speaking, is probably the single most important attribute in people. The most dreaded outcome of our pursuit of friendships and relationships with other people is to be turned down. Even those of us who enjoy time to ourselves cannot claim that we would be content with social exclusion; spending too much time with oneself can be an uncomfortable experience. The fear that people have of social rejection can be very real. It probably emanates from a complex within us that there is something about us that’s repellent and rejectable. These feelings, as discussed in previous entries, are some of the most deeply buried and non-communicated of human experience. Yet, their influence on our personalities is profound. Perhaps it’s the denial and eagerness to escape these thoughts and portray ourselves as anything but worried about our lives that makes the spectre of indifference so appealing. Further still, maybe it's insecurity of this false indifference that forces our darker sides to the surface in strange and destructive ways.
Whatever our own troubles may be, we are also surrounded by the world we find ourselves in, where hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis can quickly erase hundreds of thousands of people out of existence. Aids, cancer and heart disease spread through the human population indiscriminately. If disasters and disease aren’t enough, we also have to contend with man-made problems like war, famine and environmental catastrophe. Just knowing that the human race is capable of inflicting such devastation is a worrisome consideration. There are also the more common threats we face in everyday life, such as the relatively good chance of being killed every time we drive on roads (traffic accidents are the world’s ninth biggest killer). Not only concerned with our own flesh, we also have to worry for those of whom we love and care for in this dangerous existence. There is also the matter of trying to comprehend that our whole existence is akin to the smallest of needles in a gigantic haystack, as the magnitude and complexity of the universe reveals itself. Yes, the context of individual life is alot for us to consider. The words ‘You cannot fathom the immensity of’ as employed by the previously mentioned group on Facebook would probably be better suited to precede ‘things you have to give a fuck about’.
And yet, in the midst of this chaos, we try to eek out some kind of purpose for our existence. The natural way of doing this is to procreate and serve the biological craving for passing on the cells that we have inherited. Parenting a healthy offspring, watching them grow as one once did into the people that they become, is probably one of the greatest sources of fulfilment for the human being. In my experience, I have found those exhibiting the most genuine and palpable ease with the world to be ‘post parenting’ parents of a happy progeny with whom they maintain a warm and reciprocal relationship. Perhaps it is because parental love, the most deeply set and immovable of human affections, has been rewarded with the outcome it so desperately sought. If any objective meaning to life can be extracted, this process certainly springs to mind. The road to such a feeling has been travelled with a careful, thoughtful, diligent and exhausting approach through the obstacles of life, i.e., very much ‘giving a fuck’. This is not an attack or attempted falsification of those who are self assured. To be self assured is to be comfortable with your ability to overcome the problems that you have or will have. It is to quietly, yet evidently, have faith in yourself. It is not to feign invulnerability and deny weakness. It is to acknowledge yourself as a human being, nothing more or less. It is, perhaps, what we should all aspire to be. So why pretend to be anything else? Go ahead. Give a fuck.