I'm going to take a radical stance on this expression.
It is evil.
It is insidious.
It is passive agressive.
It is false.
(Except when it isn't. Of course there are things you don't know. Like where the black holes are and why they even matter. Wait, you know? Can you call me?)
I watched an interaction between a manager and her direct report. The employee was angry. He cut her off numerous times. He asked sarcastic questions. He attacked and blamed. And when he was asked, "What do you need?" He said...."I don't know".
I was incredulous. Really? What is that about? And where can this relationship go if the angry party can't ask for what he needs?
It drives my son crazy when I ask him a question about what he wants or what he needs and he says, "I don't know" and I respond, "Pretend you know. What would you say?"
It might drive you crazy too.
And yet, most of the time when we say, "I don't know" in response to a question about our own feelings or needs- we are lying. We do know. But we don't feel comfrotable saying it. Maybe it is hard even to admit to ourselves. Maybe we are worried about repercussions. Maybe we like the power that comes from witholding.
Are you struggling with this? Well you can call me too.