After reading the title of this article your reaction may be, “No, I’m not a fatalist and I have no idea what you mean by a cliché quoter.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language1 defines fatalism as, “The doctrine that all events are predetermined by fate and are therefore unalterable.” Consequently, a fatalist is a person holding onto and believing in that doctrine. A cliché is “A trite or overused expression or idea.” How are these two concepts linked together? Through the expression, “It is what it is.” For example:
- “I broke my arm. Well, it is what it is.”
- “My bank account was hacked. Well, it is what it is.”
- “My identity was stolen. Well, it is what it is.”
- “Martians just vaporized Portland, Oregon. Well, it is what it is.”
Need I go on with more examples? The very nature of the overused statement, “It is what it is” conveys a fatalistic attitude. But you may be thinking, “I frequently use this statement and I’m not a fatalist!” If that is the case, then you would fall into the category of a cliché quoter. This is the person who repeats phrases that have little to no meaning either through habit or because they cannot think of anything else to say.
If you use the phrase “It is what it is” in the context of nothing can be done to change the situation, then that is a fatalistic approach. Ask yourself if you are truly a fatalist. If you are a cliché quoter, then think of other ways to change your response that does not convey to others that you view a situation as completely hopeless. People do not want to follow leaders who are fatalists. People want to follow leaders who have a vision and bring hope. People also want to follow leaders who can construct meaningful statements that demonstrate a command of the language. So, before you utter the words “It is what it is,” ask yourself if you are a fatalist or a cliché quoter.