I tried to think of a working definition for “cynicism” as I see it. I came up with this:
Apathetic fatalism brought about by persistent doubt in the sincerity of others and in the ability to change one’s circumstances.
The hemorrhoidal maxim “It is what it is” has become a mantra for bending over to cynicism. What began as shorthand for “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” has been watered down to a shorthand for “It might be hard to change this, so I’m not going to try.”
Case in point: Recently, my wife and I dropped $180, a massive splurge for us, on tickets to see Pixies and Cat Power at the Hollywood Bowl. During Cat’s set, a group of dipshits in the seats behind us yakked loudly and heckled her. When I asked the lead dipshit to move out of the seating area if he wanted to talk because I had paid a lot of money to listen to someone who wasn’t him, his response was, “Hey man, it is what it is.” Translation: “Hey man, it would be hard to move or to not talk or to be courteous to those around me, so I’m not going to try, and you shouldn’t try to change that.”
Okay, it wasn’t recently. It was two years ago, and I’m still mad about it.