Tuesday, August 11, 2015

No Problem

Yes it is. What ever happened to, You’re Welcome ? Or better yet, My Pleasure. No Problem, is the equivalent of responding to, How’s the coffee? Not Bad. It is stingy, begrudging, dismissive and narcissistic.

No Problem is a presumption that whatever you did was just a tad less than a problem…like a bother, a nuisance or inconvenience. By saying they were not burdened shifts the exchange to them rather than the act itself. Appropriate for having one’s foot stepped upon in response to, sorry, but not for passing the salt. Are we so put upon all day with minor irritations that when holding the door for someone, No Problem, comes naturally to being thanked?

Thank you for coming…..No Problem. That strikes me as rude. Why am I making such a fuss? Because the expression, You’re Welcome, was the recognition of a courtesy, a kind of reception. It is something freely offered, not a measure of an imposition. The other party might wonder how many No Problems it takes to make a genuine Problem. But who’s counting?

What first sprang up among young people has now wormed its way into public discourse and is reflexively said across borders.  It rivals Hey as a greeting. How has this expression gained universal currency? My guess is that Nono Problemo is understood everywhere on the planet. Why?

I believe it issues from a generation looking out for number one. It is the language of negativity and of transactions. The expression relegates generosity and caring far behind a self-absorbed indifference which thinks in terms of problems. It feels like a corollary to, I got mine. Don’t give me your problems and I’ll let you know if you do. In the name of authenticity gracious civility has been lost.

To give it a kinder spin perhaps Millennials reflect the fragility of our times. It doesn’t take much to jam the precarious wireless network without which life is unthinkable. Identity theft, being hacked, made redundant by cheap off-shore labor…now those are real problems. All the rest is No Problem.

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