Continuum of Caring

I had a minor heart attack a few days ago in the office. I thought maybe I lost my Continuum of Caring. Back up a little: I recently purchased a new home computer and I had all my files transferred from my old computer to the new computer. So the other day in the office while I was staring at my white board I thought, “Hey, I wonder whatever happened to my Continuum of Caring? Did the file get lost in the transfer??” Not that losing the continuum file would be like losing something critical, it’s just that. . . .

Back up a little more: Several years ago someone came into my office and we were having some abstract discussion. Who knows what it was about (maybe work-related, maybe about George Lucas, maybe the ranking of Star Trek movies). At any rate, the discussion could’ve gone something like this:

The other person: “Well, I could care less about that.”

Me: “Oh…so, in fact, you do care, just not very much.”

The other person: “No, I don’t care at all. . . I said, ‘I could care less.'”

Me: “You mean you couldn’t care less. Like it’s physically impossible for you to care less. Because what you said is that you cared at one point, don’t care much now, and could actually care less in the future.”

The above conversation could’ve continued going back and forth like a tennis match, but you get the idea. It’s similar to when someone says to me, “I don’t disagree.” This forces me to immediately reply, “Oh good, then you agree!” Typically the other person will then say, “No, I just don’t disagree.” And then this conversation goes back and forth until I finally say, “So you just can’t slice the argument thin enough to actually agree?” Other person: “No.” (BTW, I find the phrase “I don’t disagree” to be such a Washingtonian non-committal piece of garbage that I really get irked when people use it. Simply take a stand but don’t get all double negative wishy washy.)

But I digress. . . . At any rate, I developed my Continuum of Caring to 1) point out the difference between “could care less” and “couldn’t care less” and 2) to show people on the scale how much I care about a particular topic they are trying to explain. If a conversation goes on way too long (e.g., George Lucas is a genius because blah blah blah blah blah who gives a crap), I can simply stand up and point out on the continuum exactly where I care about the issue (thanks to my usually pessimistic attitude, it’s down at “couldn’t care less”). In all actuality, I rarely use the continuum, because I’ve found peoples’ reactions to be less than embracing. I mean, really, who wants to receive the following message (as I stand and point to a piece of paper on my white board):  “Excuse me, allow me to illustrate how little I care about what you’re talking about.”  That really never goes over very well.  It’s really a last ditch effort to end a sadly ridiculous conversation about nothing important.

So here’s the full blown continuum: Continuum of Caring. It’s several years old now and holding up okay, but in reading it again, I suppose it could use some revisions in some of the statement or arguments. I’m sure someone will poke holes in it. I’ve never claimed it’s perfect but it gets the point across and you get the idea. . . and it’s true about that idiot Jar Jar Binks.

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2 Responses to “Continuum of Caring”


  1. 1 Becky April 8, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Oh, I so hate the phrase ‘I could care less’. I rarely hear anything a person says afterward. I’ll stay stuck on that thinking – how much less could you care? Or I get snarky: ‘Oh, you could, could you?’ I might have to borrow your chart.

  2. 2 Joshua April 10, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Like most things, studying a bit increases the appreciation. Study enough, and you can educate others. We bow before you and continue to seek your enlightenment.


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