Mark's great post about "no problem" reminded me of an article by Nick Paumgarten that I read in The New Yorker magazine a couple of years ago. It was about another supremely annoying response: "whatever." Until I read Paumgarten's article, I couldn't articulate why exactly I found this so irritating...
The article is worth reading in full because Paumgarten weaves in a lovely anecdote about Russell Crowe exploding into physical violence when a hotel desk clerk gives the "W" response to Russell's complaints about the phone service. (I'm not usually on the side of physical violence, but My Dear, there are limits to what one simple Australian can be expected to take.)
Here are the hightlights:
"'Whatever' is as incendiary as it is nonchalant; the nonchalance is what makes it incendiary. 'Whatever' turns disengagement into something withering and mean."
"...moralists ... regard the routine deployment of 'whatever' as the ultimate symptom of indifference in the culture at large."
"The word immediately exhibits a complete lack of respect for your point of view or situation...It’s basically saying that your point of view is crap."