Actually I Do Give A F*ck
January 10, 2016
To give a f*ck or not to give a f*ck; that is the internet question.
Whether t’is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Internet opinions…
When did apathy, a morose-Botox version of Zen, become cool?
Now, I am not saying that there are not good reasons to ignore stuff from time to time, but with today’s meme driven, often headline only reading tendencies, myself included for you sensitive types, there are serious dangers in translation.
It is very easy to give advice to stop giving f*cks and by that I mean meaning and power, to things that only steal from you. The problem is the message can easily come across extolling the virtue of apathy. Apathy, the opposite of compassion, is possibly the reason that we are currently on a slippery slope to balmier times.
And it is easy to get ‘not giving a f*ck’ mixed up with being cool, kinda like the Fonz.
Not caring about people’s comments, or numbers of LIKES on your Social Media site, is one thing; does it make sense for EVERYONE to generally act like The Fonz?
You remember The Fonz, AKA Arthur Fonzarelli; the only guy on Happy Days that looked like he had his sh*t together?
Of course, if you dug a bit deeper, you would start to wonder why he could never keep a girlfriend. You may even ask yourself about the guy at the dinner table hitting on both Joanie and Mrs. Cunningham, in front of her brother and Husband respectively, after being invited to share in a family meal.
And did he ever go to school or have a family or career?
When I look back, he hung around kind of like my stoner friends, while the rest of the characters dealt with ‘real life’. He was probably Richie Cunningham’s Brad Pitt, from Fight Club. You know, like an imaginary cooler version of himself, who got the girl, and had a big motorcycle between his legs.
Despite all of that, The Fonz remains one of TV’s first surreptitious Zen Masters, camouflaged in slick hair and a black leather jacket. All of the stuff that used to get Richie Cunningham and Potsie so hot and bothered was beneath The Fonz, even though his office was in the bathroom of a crappy restaurant.
If you find yourself falling into the Fonz trap, I have news for you, there are still many things in your life really worth caring about. Oh, and that apathy sh*t really only works on TV. In real life it disconnects you from the very things that can help you feel powerful again.
Not caring anymore about things should be a wakeup call to examine your current value system. If it is related to a good hair day, looking younger than your age, or always having to have the last word; no wonder you are fed up. If it is related to feeling powerless, or hopeless, try to divide it up or reach out. Or make your circle smaller until you can heal and then handle more again.
You won’t be able to stop yourself from sometimes giving a f*ck about something you know is not f*ckworthy, and that is when you have to rechannel your f*cks into the right areas, not choose zero caring.
I don’t think many of the people that you or I follow in the world of Sports, Music, Art, Science, or Entertainment, realized their talents or honed their skills by not giving a f*ck. Some of them became outraged, and gave many many f*cks about many many things, as they honed their voice or craft. Some wanted to be the best f*cking singer in their class, some wanted to run the effin fastest.
They gave a f*ck about their critics along the way too, enough to hear the message beneath the envy. If it hurt them, many dug even deeper to find purer messages to convert the critics.
Giving a f*ck about what others think sometimes can greatly drive the process of self reflection and redefinition.
Do people really feel that the answer to the challenges in this brief life is to stop giving a f*ck, or to stop caring about things that matter to them? We all care in similar ways about different and similar things. Maybe the angry internet verbal attacker is insecure, begging for someone to listen. Maybe we have all been that person, on the defensive.
Everyone around you is struggling just like you have, in many ways, but we all keep plugging along the best we can. The happiest amongst us have made important decisions between what is f*ckworthy and what is not.
When some people say they no longer give a f*ck, it is often about their latest relationship or job; it is because they were hurt and frustrated and feel like they couldn’t win, or lost something valuable, like hope or integrity.
These slings and arrows can hurt so much you want to flip the board, and pick up the pieces at a later time. Cashing things in early before you have understood the stakes or the system is a huge gamble.
There is no better feeling when playing a game than the moment where you finally start to click in and figure out a successful strategy. That often occurs after trial and error, bad luck, and perseverance. It can take time to build your own inner sense of Monopoly.
Not giving a f*ck often means not caring what others think, but it may also alter the dial on your internal passion’o’meter, lessening your important voice in the face of adversity.
Animals, when they are faced with impossible situations, will often dissociate, go numb, or start to self soothe themselves. A duck faced with either saving her eggs or her already hatched youngsters, both an equal distance away from a hungry fox, will often start grooming herself because she is too overwhelmed to make a decision. That sounds an awful lot like not giving a duck. It is also called Learned Helplessness, which I defined in an earlier article.
I think giving the right level of f*ck, in the correct f*cking context, is the essential f*cking teaching point.
David Suzuki, it could be argued, began to give less of a f*ck about working with corporations when he saw possible advantages to cooperation. This example does not defeat my point, but rather illustrates that not giving a fuck is not the end of the story. Rather, it likely represents an apathetic pit stop on one of your life’s many journeys, where you regroup and perhaps realign what you want, and how you are going to go about getting it.
The issue is not whether you temporarily give a f*ck or not, but rather how you go about giving one again.
And yes, I do think it’s important to separate what to give a f*ck about and when to keep your f*cks to yourself, or ideally, decide not to have a f*ck reaction to irrelevant sh*t in the first place.
HERE’S TO THE YEAR OF GIVING A F*CK IN THE RIGHT WAY
Simon Trepel, MD
Simon Trepel, MD FRCPC, is a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in Winnipeg, Canada. He is an Assistant Professor, at the University Of Manitoba, in the Faculty of Medicine, and the Co-founder of the GDAAY Clinic. He is, more importantly, the proud Father of 2 beautiful Daughters. He writes in his spare time about things he knows something about, and occasionally about things he doesn’t; like Yoga, and Italian flavored coffees. He may be jealous of the Fonz because when he hits stuff, it usually just breaks.
Check out his Blog, called Simon Says Psych Stuff, at