Couldn't Care Less

Posted: March 14th, 2014, 10:43 am   By: erin.hempfling

“You mean you can’t take less; it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”—the putatively deranged Mad Hatter, making quite a bit of sense in this situation

This week, we explain why you couldn’t care less.

We should also note the beginning of a new year. It’s now 2013, and together we can breathe easy after the Apocalypse That Wasn’t. The planet-searing, satellite-frying solar flares never happened. The ships teeming with orifice-probing, macrocephalic greys never arrived. Planet Niburu, which should have blackened our skies and shattered our monkey minds, never appeared. What a relief, amirite? Let’s party!

In light of our renewed collective lease on life, we should take this moment to snuff out another grammatical bugbear. We have already learned not to abuse “begging the question.” Now we confront an even more exasperating gaffe: “could care less.”

What’s the Problem?

We get it. You want to explain that you don’t care. Perhaps you share this woman’s opinion on medical licensing and general safety standards. Maybe your name is Danny Amendola, and someone has asked you to explain your attitude toward the welfare of the elderly. Regardless, you want to convey that you have reached rock bottom with your caring. It is not possible for you to care any less than you do right now. You could not care less.

Unfortunately, people often say, “I could care less,” when they mean that they have no more capacity to care. This doesn’t make a lot of sense: If you could actually care less—if you still had another gallon left in the tank—that’s not a very compelling thing to say.

As the Hatter indicates, you can’t have less of nothing. The bottom is as far as you can go. Your caring tank has run dry. That’s why you couldn’t care less.

Come to think about it, I don’t care anymore.