Not Giving A Sh!t Is The New Zen

A friend of mine has a rare nervous condition that causes the internal sphincter muscles in her colon not to function properly, or really at all, which means without treatment she runs the risk of filling up with shit. Imagine if your ass just stopped working. Changes everything when you realize how much shit is central to your happiness. My friend’s clenched sphincter squeezes most of the joy from her days. And her constipated nights are an equal measure of confusion, frustration, anger and fear. She has to schedule enemas and enroll in experimental treatments to help keep things moving. It’s pretty bad. Her ass, literally, doesn’t give a shit. Yet somehow, she finds ways to laugh about her dysfunctional ass. She’s decided if her ass isn’t gonna give a shit, then, neither shall she.

Chronic constipation is no laughing matter, but laughter is always good medicine. And besides, in many ways, she’s early on a trend. She’s one of the early-adopters, one of the folks finding some freedom (or relief) in five little magic words:

“I… don’t… give… a… shit.”

It seems rare these days to be in public without crossing paths with someone who basically says to you, one way or another, “I don’t give a shit about you, your time, that face you’re making, that stupid baby you’re holding, the fact you’re honking your car horn at me, the fact I just totally cut in front of you and everyone else in line, or the fact I’m about to let this door slam in your face- Why? Because I don’t give a shit.”

You see it all over the place like bad driving. The real trouble is, you and I both know how great it feels to not give a shit. To just be exempt of any social anything. And that’s why saying those five words can feel like a moment of… zen. You feel liberated, defiant. And it works on two levels. First, you declare yourself free of the whole affair. Whatever it is. It doesn’t matter to you because… you don’t give a shit. Secondly, you claim power in your statement of non-involvement. It’s the opposite of being in charge. It’s a declaration of social detachment. You’re looking out for you. You’re not in it. Whatever it is. You’re unfettered as sunshine. You’re like a shit-less Zen master.

Okay, we’re dragging the notion of Zen down to a level it shouldn’t have to stoop. It doesn’t need to be bastardized any further, it’s already so overused by self-help authors. Rather than Zen, let’s just call it the way of consciousness-less-ness. Try saying that out loud three times fast. Or even once. Or don’t. I don’t give a shit.

I live in Los Angeles. And L.A. has a deserved reputation for being a self-absorbed city. Of course, we’d go big with something fun like not giving a shit. Los Angeles is a lot like Texas. We like our stuff big. Big breasts, big butts, big biceps, big hair, big egos, big time behavior, get-a-bigger penis plastic surgery ads in the back of the LA Weekly. If it’s big… it’s better. And if it’s huge, it must be great. Los Angeles is what would happen to Texas if it ran away from home and got into show business. So yeah, maybe the “I don’t give a shit” attitude is on blast here.

Most folks I know who live elsewhere hate Los Angeles. However, I feel incredibly fortunate to live here. I don’t get to travel internationally as often as I’d like but it’s okay because the appeal of my city brings the world to my bus stop, to eat at my favorite restaurant, and have dessert at the trendy new designer ice cream parlor next door. Without the benefit of traveling, I still rub elbows with people from all around the world. It’s one of the great perks of living in a city like New York or Los Angeles, the world shops at your corner store.

Thanks to the international attraction of my city, people from all around the world will cut you off in a parking lot. They will shove past you on an escalator, even if you’re pregnant. And they’ll, just generally, let you know they don’t give a shit about you. When it happens, I often grin and think, “Ah, that’s awesome, they’re embracing the culture.” But that’s where I’m apparently wrong. People I know from different continents, they tell me L.A. isn’t rubbing off on the newcomers. They say folks who come to L.A. are bringing the attitude with them. Not giving a shit has gone global.

Whether it’s Los Angeles, London, Lisbon or Lagos, it’s everywhere. Some folks blame the internet, or too much time in front of a screen, and certainly all the impersonal innovations in our new forms of pad/smartphone communication. The critics may be right. These might be the factors fueling our rapid embrace of near-complete self-absorption. I don’t know. It just seems like “I don’t give a shit” is the spirit of our times. No… that’s too grand. It’s not the zeitgeist. It’s more like a popular default social setting.

Which is rad, if you ask me. It means everyone’s going punk rock. And they don’t even know it. GG Allin & The Scumfucs wrote a perfect theme song for this creeping global infection of self-importance.


If you don’t have time for the video, the last verse is:

I don’t care about a thing, I’m gonna do what I gotta do
I don’t care about no one, I’m looking out for number one, fuck you
I don’t give a shit… about you!

Can’t boil it down any leaner that that. Sometimes, not giving a shit is the best way to glide through the world. It’s basically a five-year-old’s answer to life. Just do whatever you want. But most five-year-olds pair the attitude with a contagious curiosity about the world and a natural propensity for playing in any given moment that’s admirable in any creature. Adults should remember if you’re not gonna give a shit it’s way more palatable for others when you’re also playful, fun and curious about everything. Just being selfish like a drunk and detestable punk band makes a person look kinda ugly and infantile.

Personally, I love to say, “I don’t give a shit.” It’s one of my all time favorite things. Especially, in moments when someone asks me about something I don’t care at all about, like say… college basketball. I’d say my desire to watch college basketball on t.v. finishes just ahead of watching hog-calling contests and the pro bass fishing tour. I’d prefer to watch C-Span. Which means, if you’re like me, when you find yourself cornered at some rooftop party, nowhere to go, and some drunk/friendly stranger says, “Dude, aren’t you stoked about this March Madness or fucking what?” You say with a smile, “I don’t give a shit.” And those five magic words will cut short any more boring talk of college hoops. The smile lets them know it may be a joke. If you quickly change subjects, usually they’ll be glad to play along.

The great shame of it is we can’t all move through the world saying, “I don’t give a shit.” The numbers just don’t work out. Someone has to work and give a shit. The robots aren’t quite ready to do everything. And long before that happens, we have way too many crazy Bond villain-sized world problems that’ll require some serious shit-giving if we want to fix them. This is actually a terrible time for everyone to figure out how awesome it is to not give a shit about anything. It’s like adopting a baby at the same time you take up a heroin habit.

We all agree, not giving a shit feels good. But if you make this same choice too often, eventually, it becomes your attitude. And that’s where a good thing becomes a bad thing. Every time you don’t give a shit, it’s way easier to not to give a shit in the future. But giving a shit keeps things circulating and moving and healthy. It’s a level of caring and measure of how you treat yourself, your friends and neighbors. It helps if you keep in practice. Make it your habit. We all have to give a shit sometimes. Otherwise, society would be as constipated as my friend’s dysfunctional colon. She says no one wants that pain. You want your shit moving.

There are still plenty of times in your life when it’s good and wise to not give a shit. When my friend’s troublesome ass is making her want to cry, she tries to make herself laugh. That’s how to not give a shit. Do it with defiant laughter. As with everything under the sun, there’s a shady side and a sunny side of shit-giving. Or maybe you think that’s crass. Whatever. I don’t give a shit. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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