I can’t even….. WHAT can’t you even?
At work, I heard the expression “I can’t even” so many times that I finally have to write about it. When I lived in New York, I heard it even more often and actually became a critical fan. But recently, I have to admit, I have become frustrated by your service. How is it that you allow yourself to be used as a reaction to literally anything without providing any explanation?
Can you not? Can you really not even? Or has your purpose merely been thrust upon you by the culture of memery in which you thrive?
Maybe it is a social issue. We have become charmed by how easily you are able to communicate such an evergreen and relatable sentiment while avoiding unnecessary labor. You are speechless. I understand. I am asking you to reflect on your purpose, and honestly, no one – er, thing – needs to be facing existential questions during a global war and pandemic. I will try to be gentle.
Your existence was born out of convenience, yes? Like a microwave in that you can be used in the spirit of capitalism to generate corporate profit – I have seen I CAN’T EVEN T-shirts – and not like a microwave in that you are never going to be able to give me a sandwich.
But what do you do for us as a society? Do our responses to what we believe ourselves incapable of doing become meaningless when we rely on you as a crutch to express ourselves?
I used the word “our” because, as previously stated, I am a critical fan. I am constantly fatigued, and your conciseness saves me the time of having to formulate a thoughtful response to any person or thing to which I simply cannot.
But I am also concerned that you have an ulterior motive. That’s my real reason for writing to you. You see, this concern has been haunting my mind and my heart in the only way a handful of syllables can.
I worry your existence was borne out of a desire to begin a semantic revolution – one in which we all drastically reduce the amount of time we spend communicating with one another. The end result, then, being a dystopia in which we gradually become silent, the atmosphere simply punctuated with implied meaning.
In this dystopian world, your vagueness would also strip conversations of nuance. You are, after all, just as likely to be invoked in response to a silly film as much as the gaffe of a politician or a national tragedy. Granted, the last two are not always mutually exclusive. It is 2022.
But my question then, is this: Can you calm my fears? Do you have the capacity to respond to such a request? You don’t possess a consciousness, so I know this is asking a lot.
Maybe I am just paranoid, delusional from hunger. It is 6 AM and I am still thinking about the sandwich. Were there a universe in which you did possess consciousness, I assume you would probably leave me on Read. Click delete. I am questioning you, after all, and influencers such as yourself tend to respond indifferently if not with some hostility to those with less cultural capital.
Perhaps you, too, can’t even. And honestly? Same. I am not sure if the idea of us sharing this sentiment is comforting or depressing. I do have a consciousness. And I don’t have the ingredients to make a sandwich but I do want an ‘I Can’t even’ t-shirt!