Taylor Mali

Taylor Mali

Taylor Mali on “Totally like whatever, you know?”

In case you hadn’t realized,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you’re talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you’re, like, saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)’s
and (you know what I’m saying?)’s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren’t, like, questions?

Declarative sentences – so-called
because they used to, like, you know DECLARE things to be true, ok
as opposed to other things that are, like, totally, you know, not –
They’ve been infected by this tragically cool
and totally hip interrogative tone?
As if I’m saying, don’t think I’m a nerd just cuz I’ve like noticed this, ok;
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions?
I’m just like inviting you to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down with the rest of the rain forest?
You know?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society just become so filled with these conflicting feelings of nyeaah…
That we’ve just gotten to the point where we’re the most agressively inarticulate generation to come along since . . .
you know, a long time ago!

So I implore you, I entreat you,
And I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You gotta speak with it, too.
Taylor Mali‘s poem “Totally like whatever, you know?”

Def Poetry Jam, Season 2