I am and you are — or could be — the “they.” Really. We are the they.
“Say what?” you ask.
Well, first off.
Conduct an informal survey in your everyday conversation. How many times, on average, do you or others talk about the they?
“What have they said about the weather? … When are they going to finish the road construction? … Did you hear what they’ve found out about cholesterol drugs? … What time of year do they put out a special edition?” On and on and on and on. We talk about the they.
The ridiculous over-use of that pronoun is something I especially abhor, and I’ll tell you why. Because we can know and influence the they. Or become them altogether if we are not already they.
Once you catch on how much we talk about the they, make some effort to correct yourself. Eye-opening for sure.
“What have meteorologists said about the weather? … When are the county workers going to finish the road construction? … Did you hear what researchers have found out about cholesterol drugs? … What time of year does the newspaper put out a special edition?”
Ahhhh, much better.
No, we’re not all road workers, researchers, meteorologists or newspaper people, but most of us are something, so we are at least some of the they. And even when we are not the they, by clarifying who they are, we can move into a position of interacting with them rather than being at their mercy.
Here’s one example: I said I abhor the ridiculous use of this pronoun, and setting I find it most troublesome is in healthcare — say in nursing school. More than a time or two I’ve restrained myself from jumping up and yelling, “They who?! And we are — or will be — the they, people! Quit reciting or asking about what ‘they’ are doing!”