Tag Archives: It is what it is

“It” Isn’t “What It Is.” “It” Is What You Think, Feel and Do.

A human being can attach a reason to anything. For example, I could have attached the reason for writing this post to the fact that I’ve now spotted at least seven different varieties of sprouts emerging in my garden. But I won’t.

Rather, I’ve decided to attach a reason to this, my 887thth post published here on the RDC. I’ve decided that for my 887th post, I will write a full-blown rant about a cliche that just won’t die.

In 2007, I noticed that the cooler students I had started dismissing or explaining life’s little mishaps or problems with these words: “It is what it is.” For a while I thought, “Okay, that’s their way of accepting life circumstances. Of having a strong internal locus of control. Of dealing with unfortunate circumstances. Go, you.”

But of course the cliche spread. Who knows how long it had been growing across the U.S. before I focused in on the communication phenomenon. In 2008 Douglas McCollum wrote a GREAT article about how the cliche was used in the sports world.

My favorite paragraph included these words:

The phrase is popular with today’s sports figures because, like all clichés, it helps them avoid speaking about the essence of anything. Queried about whether a key fourth-down decision by coach Marvin Lewis had cost his team a game last fall, Bengals tackle Levi Jones sought cover: “It is what it is. We didn’t win the football game.” Likewise, when Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was disinclined to talk about how he’d eased teammate Shaquille O’Neal out of town, he went for the handiest refuge available. “It is what it is, man,” he told reporters. “I’ve just moved on.” Even retired players have a hard time shaking the habit. “It is what it is,” Cal Ripken Jr. told the Baltimore Sun last year after being voted into the Hall of Fame.

In 2009, I found myself gritting my teeth when I heard people throw “It is what it is” around as if it were an explanation that secretly communicated what they really felt on a higher plane so that the only response I seemed to muster was nodding my head as if I had, indeed, got the meaning loud and clear.

By the time 2010 rolled around, I decided that if our world actually had word balloons floating over all the heads of humanity spelling out what they said, I would patent an official Word Balloon Gun and run around searching for “It is what it is” somewhere within their dialogue.  Should I locate that phrase, I would look through my scope, pull the trigger and blow that entire word balloon to bits.  I fantasized in my head that I was the word balloon police, and that phrase was felony level behavior. Continue reading “It” Isn’t “What It Is.” “It” Is What You Think, Feel and Do.