“It is what it is” Isn’t Good Enough

20130115-114519.jpgI hate the phrase “It is what it is”.

When someone uses that phrase while speaking with me, I interpret it as “I don’t think you’re worth it”:

  • Not worth the time to deal with the issue, or
  • Not worth fixing the issue for

I’m not so arrogant to assume that every issue I have is important to someone else. I try to solve my own problems, and come up with solutions myself before I ask for help. But after all that thinking and reasoning, if I come to you with an problem, issue, or challenge, don’t brush me off by saying “it is what it is”.

That is just not good enough.

It’s lazy. Disrespectful. Diminishing. I expect more of someone that I am placing my trust in to have a potentially difficult conversation with.

Sometimes there really isn’t anything that can be done. Tell me that. Tell me why. Educate me. I’m not stupid, and I won’t rip your head off if I don’t get my way. Most people won’t. Don’t just brush me off by telling me to go away in a slightly more polite fashion.

I read this article by Katrina Onstad in Chatelaine back in 2009, and it has stuck with me ever since (an eternity is the age of information overload). I knew I wasn’t the only one would couldn’t stand this neutralized version of “Whatever” or even “Meh”. Her theory that IIWII is an “anger snuffer” is an interesting one. It says “don’t get mad at this, you can’t change it”.

IIWII creates complacency and compliance. I keep hearing people say that isn’t good enough either. So why do we encourage it and such passivity in each other?

IIWII is meant to diffuse anger, but most of the time, it incites it.

When someone tells you “it is what it is”, what do you say back to them? How can we eliminate this phrase from our vocabulary?

5 thoughts on ““It is what it is” Isn’t Good Enough”

    • I saw the first half of your comment and was ready to soften my stance. (The joys of being a both a people pleaser and not one to court much controversy.)

      Not completely change, but soften. Neutralize. Maybe I’m taking the IIWII concept too close to heart.

      Sometimes I want empathy too. But sometimes I want a meaningful change. That’s when IIWII pisses me off the most.

  1. Saying IIWII is an excuse not to provide an answer or to seek the truth. The perfect response to that statement is, “what do you mean by that?” I don’t always get the answer (I want) but at least it puts the IIWII’er on the spot to think a little harder about what I’m asking.

  2. I agree with you. I would never say that to someone who is going through a difficult time. On the other hand, I personally use it as an expression of acceptance. Of *my* circumstances. I actually think it’s true. Sometimes what is just is. I like that use of the sentiment. But it absolutely sounds dismissive, insensitive and condescending to say so to someone who is confiding their troubles.


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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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