Totally Like Whatever, You Know?

This is such a poignant poem written by Taylor Mali, who has an incredible insight into an emerging culture and language in our day. I first heard it through a sermon Mark Dever gave at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

In case you hadn’t noticed, it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you’re talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you’re saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)’s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren’t, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences – so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, not –
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don’t think I’m uncool just because I’ve noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It’s like what I’ve heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I’m just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we’ve just gotten to the point where it’s just, like . . .
whatever!

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we’ve become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY. You have to speak with it, too.

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2 Comments on “Totally Like Whatever, You Know?”

  1. HJ says:

    I think people are turned off by authority. They’d rather figure things out on their own, through inquiry and discussion, than hearing anything from someone with such strong convictions that they sound like a know-it-all. Question marks show a willingness and desire to hear the other person’s input.

    I’ve found that it’s tough having a conversation on both sides: having strong convictions and listening to someone who unwilling to hear other sides of the story or have a discussion. What do you think?

  2. Dan Ko says:

    yea, i would agree. the only dialogue worth having is a when both are willing to listen, but if no one’s willing to make a statement for fear of being the authority (know-it-all), then we’re gonna get nowhere…

    questions are good. but don’t you think we need to settle into answers, instead of dwelling on the questions all the time?


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