“I’m OK.” But Are You Really?
December 15, 2020
“I’m OK.” We use this reply so much. Your supervisor essentially called you out and reprimanded you unnecessarily and incorrectly (not my department) and you said, “I’m OKAY.” Your beloved aunt is now dying of pancreatic cancer, and you say “I’m OK.” Your family is in big financial doo doo partially due to personal decisions and mostly due to larger societal factors, and you reply “I’m OKAY.” It’s the first holiday season since someone died, and you are sleeping in a crappy call room eating crappy turkey from the cafeteria while COVID-19 is ravaging the ICU. How are you doing? “I’m OK.” But Dr. Plastic Picker now asks, are you really? Are you really OK?
I guess I need to better understand what that response really means. “I’m OK” means let/s table it. I’m not ready to deal with it. It’s not going to incapacitate me today and I can move on with my life at this particular moment and maybe for years, but the event still happened and it’s still there. OK per Wikipedia “has been described as the most frequently spoken or written word on the planet.” Indeed it is an English loan word into many other languages. OK can be adequate, acceptable or mean mediocre. It can denote compliance or agreement or assent. Perhaps the problem with the term OK and why it is the most frequently spoken and written word on the planet is because it is IMPRECISE. Per Wikipedia, the word itself stems from an error. “OK‘s original presentation as ‘all correct’ was later varied with spellings such as ‘Oll Korrect’ or even ‘Ole Kurreck’.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OK
Would it be better if we said instead – today I’m adequate? The situation is acceptable. It’s mediocre. I agree. I assent. And maybe that it is ‘All Correct.’ That situation did happen, it was correct.
This is Mrs. Cow and she is not OK. She is happy. She is reimagined. She is cleaned with vinegar. She is wearing a reusable mask and she is upcycled. Dr. Plastic Picker is also not Okay. Dr. Plastic Picker is happy. I am limber. I am not constipated (because I eat lots of fiber). I am rested. And I hate the response “I’m OK” because it tells me that something is not quite right. Okay is the colloquiol way to obfuscate your feelings. We don’t need to air out all our emotional baggage, because we all have lots. But if you are OK, than likely you need to hug Mrs. Cow or at least have her sit at your desk and gaze at you lovingly. I’m drop her off. She at least will make you smile unlike that mean supervisor.