I can’t even.
I belong to the generation of millennials, but that doesn’t mean I always understand them. Few of their quirks confuse (or amuse) me so much as the phrase “I can’t even.”
These words are meant to represent speechlessness due to shock, dismay, or joy, which are my own reactions to this idiom. It baffles, irritates, and fascinates me: “I can’t even.”
You can’t even… what? You can’t even handle it? You can’t even finish the phrase? What can’t you even do?!
Perhaps this incomplete phrase is meant to represent an inability to express oneself due to strong emotion: “I can’t even,” trailing into overwhelmed silence. A more cynical theory is simply that my generation doesn’t understand how the English language is supposed to work.
For better or worse, “I can’t even” has entered our cultural lexicon. The Babylon Bee, a satirical Christian website, recently broke this “news” report: “Millennial Diagnosed With Tragic Inability To Even.” A geek folk band called the PDX Broadsides wrote a catchy song titled “The Girl Who Couldn’t Even.” Heck, I’ve even heard the phrase at work.
I can’t even, guys. I can’t even “I can’t even.” I am presently afflicted by a tragic inability to even. I can’t. I just can’t.