“I couldn’t care less”

We’ve all heard (and probably used) this phrase. Without giving it much previous thought, I’ve always taken it as a statement of indifference. I think it might be anything but.

The nuances of language suggest an absolute; a degree of caring that couldn’t be reduced any further. But would someone who “cares” that little even have anything to say in such a circumstance; I mean wouldn’t even a shrug be beyond the level of expendable effort ?

Speaking for myself, I think it represents an ideal in the sense of wanting not to care about something and creating a demeanor of disinterest. That’s a lot different than not actually caring. Two things about the distinction strike me as germane:

We place a lot of stock in not allowing ourselves to appear to be hurt, concerned or worried about interactions in our lives. Adopting a facade of indifference is a public gesture of preserved pride, but perhaps also, a little ‘prayer’ that something or someone cannot have a further, possibly hurtful impact on our lives.

On a philosophical level, I wonder if it’s even possible to be truly indifferent to something that you’re ipso facto aware of? This might be wandering into the area of Zen Buddhism, but perception might well exclude indifference.

On a more mundane level, it seems to me that to manage our emotions properly, it’s necessary to be honest with ourselves what those emotions actually are; not to label them for what they’re not. When all you’d really like is for something not to bother you, pretending it doesn’t probably doesn’t get you there.

I’ve resolved to remove this phrase from my lexicon of expressions. There are more accurate ways to impart how you feel about something, both to yourself and the world at large. It serves neither to pretend.

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