My Bad

Recently, my son, a teenager who is quite dear to me, forgot that we were supposed to meet at a certain time. I traveled a good while to pick him up. He didn’t show up. In a later conversation, he said with regard to his error, “My Bad.”

Now, I know that this is a colloquialism that is quite popular these days. He probably hears it all the time at school. So, this is no slam on him. But, it leads to a bigger question, one that I’m sure you can see coming: “Who authorized replacing I’m sorry, I was wrong with My Bad?”

In a best case scenario, My Bad communicates the following: “Listen. This time, and only this time, the ball of responsibility happened to land in my court. Next time, I fully expect it to land in yours. In this particular instance I’ll accept that it may be that I messed up. But, in the scheme of things, it’s much more likely that anything that goes wrong will ultimately be your fault.”

On the other hand, I’m sorry, I was wrong actually takes responsibility. It does not imply that you fully expect the other person to be the regular screw-up. It does not minimize the error. It simply acknowledges that we erred and that we care that we were wrong. There are other versions of this that come to mind. One is, “I messed up. Forgive me.”

Part of being an adult is taking responsibility for one’s actions. With this new quip, “My Bad,” popular culture has just taken a big step toward locking people into a cycle of immaturity. It’s time to pass the word that My Bad is unacceptable.

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