Some genius decided to coin the phrase, “It is what it is,” and that thing has stuck around for way too long. Like many of its predecessors (“No problem” comes to mind and gets my nose out of joint), this dog-eared adage has become the calling-card response to just about every situation where there’s probably nothing helpful, wise or else to say.
You come out of the mall and head to your parking spot only to find you have a flat tire? It is what it is. It’s not like you expected to discover that a Bentley has magically replaced your Honda Civic at no expense to you. That would be way too good to be true. The right response to that situation might be, “Hot diggity!”
You go to the mailbox and find out that you forgot to pay a parking ticket and you now have an additional charge to the already ridiculous original punishment fee? It isn’t a surprise, really. It’s a reminder, albeit a potentially expensive one. However, it is not something other than that. It’s not a unicorn or an invitation to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. The chances of those things happening are about as likely as my getting a PhD in biology.
In other words, it is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. By virtue of its occurrence, it already “is.” We need not echo the obvious.
What it (the phrase) is not is remotely intelligent or blithe. It’s simply a filler of space one proffers without any heartfelt sense of commiseration. It’s as if by saying, “It is what it is,” one can remove him or herself from any sense of responsibility or be relied upon for a call to action. This phrase is the pet rock of our culture. It does nothing and serves nobody even though many seem to carry this phrase in their arsenal of patent responses.
Of course it is what it is. It isn’t what it’s not! It’s not even close to being something else. It just is. How many ways do we have to articulate the obvious? Apparently only one.
I guess it really is what it is even though in my book, it’s not.