Totally like whatever, you know?

First heard about this poem while listening to Chris Seay online. He was speaking on the need to have some confidence in our proclamations, in our words, in the words that we speak with and make meaning with. I loved the poem, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Totally like whatever, you know?
By Taylor Mali

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

Declarative sentences – so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, not –
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don’t think I’m uncool just because I’ve noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It’s like what I’ve heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I’m just inviting you to join me in my 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?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we’ve just gotten to the point where it’s just, like . . .

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we’ve become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
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 have to speak with it, too.


  1. dh says

    Wow, Adam I really enjoyed this poem. It really encouraged me to know that when the Bible says something definitive and others don’t think so that I need to be declaring with confidence what God has said in His Word. I have been discouraged because I do that and get ridiculed and called names but now I know that when I’m speaking the Truth in love that I should have the confidence that God will do the rest to help people understand that Truth as well. Also, I like the last sentence for Authority doesn’t need to be questioned when it is doing the right things, the “speak with it” that was mentioned.

  2. says

    DH – I like many things about this poem, primarily the style it was written in and the way that it sounds when it’s performed orally.

    However, like I said, I think it adds an interesting perspective to speaking confidently when it comes to our convictions. And I think every person is entitled to that right.

    That doesn’t mean that someone else is always going to agree with you – so when you speak with confidence about what you believe the Bible says definitively, I also have the right to speak with confidence when I believe that the Bible says something definitively different than you believe, if something were to come up…

  3. dh says

    I think we all need to search and make sure it isn’t our own opinions but God when it comes to issues. I think when it comes to the Bible we need to make sure it isn’t us but God. That is why we need to look at Scripture in light of Scripture and not focus on one set or part of Scriptures over the other.

  4. dh says

    That is why when it says a certain action is sin it is. I think sometimes we make accomodations for people because we don’t want to be intolerant when Jesus in fact in love said “go and sin no more” or any of the other passages that pertain to personal responsibility of obedience to God. This is the context of my previous and this current response.

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