When Kanye West shouts, “How much do I not give a fuck?” about halfway through “On Sight,” the opening track off Yeezus, it’s posed as more or less a rhetorical question. Kanye has made a career out of telling us how much he doesn’t give a fuck, specifically about what anyone thinks or says about him. He says it plainly in “So Appalled,” it’s there on “Stronger,” and he’s said it publicly from the beginning of his career to now. Taken at his word, it’s enough to make you wonder what he’s saving up all of his fucks for. If he carries on not giving any fucks at this rate, maybe one day he will be like Steve Jobs, to whom he famously compared himself to in the New York Times, simply by saving up a lifetime's worth of fucks, like Jobs did with money, that when he dies, he’ll have so many fucks in the fuck bank that his wife can start a tax-deductible, fuck-giving charitable organization. One fuck given for every needy child around the world.
Except, of course, that Kanye actually gives so many fucks. He cares so much about what people say about him and think about him and blog about him. I mean, this is the guy who claims to have devoted an entire track off of his sparse 10 track album to how much it offended him when an unnamed designer asked him to only attend their show during Fashion Week. That sounds an awful lot like somebody who gives a fuck.
Kanye’s not alone in this. Miley Cyrus says she doesn’t care what people think of her, yet in the July 4th issue of Rolling Stone, she refuses to directly acknowledge the drug references in her song “We Can’t Stop”. Or Rihanna, treading familiar ground, albeit with some inventive spelling, when she frequently says she doesn’t give a “phuck,” but still takes to Instagram to type long-winded responses aimed at people who insulted her in some way. All are varying degrees of textbook fuck-giving.
Celebrities are easily identifiable examples of this, but we all know people like this in our own lives. Look at how we act on social media, the ultimate platform for this self-conscious approval seeking under the guise of not really caring. You’ll post that picture of yourself doing whatever on Instagram because YDGAF or, as you put it, "IDGAF," but the whole purpose of Instagram is so that other people can see that photo and like it.
Giving a fuck is the new not giving a fuck.
Where did this all come from anyway?
People considered “cool” throughout time were always the ones who could at least affect an air of not being too concerned with anything—Rebel Without a Cause, wearing a leather jacket even though it’s hot out, sagging your pants even though it makes it really hard to walk, smoking even though it kills you.
Add to that what my generation was always taught in school: Everyone is special. That whole post-Free-To-Be-You-And-Me mentality where you’ve just got to just be yourself and everything will turn out awesome for you doctrine. From that came the slightly more forceful idea of just “keeping it real"—"you doing you." Not giving a fuck seems to be the next, more aggressive, outgrowth of all that. Even the phrase itself is belligerent. Not only do you not give a damn, not only do you not give a shit, you don’t give a FUCK. Why are you so angry about it then?
It’s not really profound to say that the more someone says they don’t give a damn, the more they actually do. You care. Of course you care! You know who actually doesn’t give a fuck? Complete sociopaths. Make a list of people who wholeheartedly don’t care what anyone thinks about them and you’ve got a list of axe murderers.
Knowing that, I want to know why we still bother. Why is it that when we all know we actually do care about what people say or think about us, we still feel the need to repeatedly and unabashedly say that we do not? What’s stopping us from dropping all of this bullshit now and acknowledging that we are, in fact, doling out fucks left and right? Pride? Fear of vulnerability? Get over it. It’s never been more transparent than when 90% of what we do we’re compelled to share with other people, whether via the aforementioned online platforms or a text or SnapChat or God knows what else. And, by the way, if you SnapChat, you definitely give a fuck or else you would've straight up emailed that photo to somebody.
We all care, so let’s just say we care. Let’s break the glass fuck dispensary and start giving them away. Giving a fuck is the new not giving a fuck.
Need help starting out on this brave new road of fuck-giving? Above, we’ve highlighted some simple examples of what you can start admitting to caring about, along with some others that are safe to still not give one single fuck about at all.
Steve Dool is a writer based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter.