I just read that the word “whatever” is officially the most irritating word/phrase in the English language. It handed “you know” and “it is what it is” a complete smacking, gobbling up half the ballots cast in a recent poll in the U.S.
(I find it hard to believe that “like” didn’t give “whatever” a run for its money, seeing as how the two are often mating in full public view.)
The ultimate last word, “whatever” neatly skewers the land between apathy and engagement. People hate it because it enrages those emotionally invested in whatever is being debated. It’s a passive aggressive monster.
The kids brought this one into the popular lexicon. Remember Moon Unit Zappa? She gagged on her spoon and it was, whatever. But it’s the adults who have turned it into a backhanded juggernaut.
Anything people hate this much has to be looked at closely. It got me thinking about the marketing potential for “whatever”. Is irritating your audience always a bad thing? Could it be a product? A company name? A tagline?
An Internet search turned up a Singaporean soft drink with the name. And a buddy drink called “Anything”. Knowing Singapore well from my years working there, I can guess that “whatever” is hardly the staple conversation killer that it is in North America. The use seems more traditional then slangy. So the full potential has yet to be unleashed over here.
See how it seasons the corporate stew:
> Telus. The future is friendly – whatever.
> The Liberal Party of Canada. What. Ever.
I’m going to avoid the obvious conclusive sentence here. You know, it is what it is.