Social Question

Trillian's avatar

Are people becoming more disconnected? (Details inside)

Asked by Trillian (21106points) April 24th, 2010

I’ve been seeing a lot of television during my residential night job, and I’ve been slowly becoming more aware of something. I’m just not sure if it has any real validity.
When people are narrating something that happened to them, I hear them say “you” instead of “I”. Example; “You could hear them behind you and you knew they were going to attack but you couldn’t see them.” At first, I thought it was because of the type of narrative. If they are describing a past traumatic experience, I can understand the distancing from the event. But that isn’t it. I see it on commercials and testimonials for products; “you wake up in the morning and feel refreshed.” “You look in the mirror and love your skin.”
Has it always been so? Is it just that I’m aware of it so I hear it now, or is this a symptom of a larger societal issue? Why do people distance themselves from everyday topics that they discuss? Or am I imagining things?
Has anyone else noticed this? Can you recall the last time you described an event to someone or had someone describe something to you? Did you take yourself out of the frame and use the word “you” rather than “I”, or did they?

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19 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

YOU are correct and here is why: for a year, i attended Mid-South Broadcasters in my city. i received my diploma in radio broadcasting. the word “I” is never used in broadcasting. over the radio waves, this letter comes across as a person thats self-centered. the word “you” is much more acceptable.

This is comparable to your resume. you avoid the word “I” as much as possible in your contents.

Trillian's avatar

@john65pennington Do you think that these people have all been coached then? I guess I can accept that.

Cruiser's avatar

I have seen that too. I did a lot of broadcast journalism in college and was part of the “man” in the street news crew and the “you” interviews were usually people that were indirectly involved in the situation, by standers and not always a witness. These “you” stories were more often 2nd hand interpretations of the events. When interviewing direct participants you will hear “I saw this, I heard this”.

@john65pennington is correct that scripted news reports will never incorporate “I” into their reads.

john65pennington's avatar

Possible. if you have ever listened to a raw street interview, most people on the street use the word “I” and not “you”.

Trillian's avatar

Dang. I thought I was on to something.

john65pennington's avatar

Trillian, good question and “I” enjoyed reading it. john

Fly's avatar

I have noticed this, but I feel that it is actually more of a tactic to connect to people rather than become disconnected. Think about it- if someone says “You look better within a week!” on a commercial, people are more likely to feel that said product will work for them, too. But if someone says “I tried this product, and it worked great for me,” people are more likely to feel that this person was just lucky or is acting and said product won’t work for them. I think that using “you” instead of “I” on the radio and news and such is a similar tactic, to get a stronger emotional response for the audience to keep ratings, if they feel like they were somehow involved.

Taciturnu's avatar

I never knew @john65pennington ‘s explanation, but it certainly makes sense.

My thought was more along @Fly‘s line- that it was more poetic to speak that way, and was used to help a person experience what it would be like to “be there.” It’s used a lot in marketing.

DarkScribe's avatar

It is modern parlance for “One could hear something…”

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t like the way that resumes are written without a person. So I allow myself to put myself in my resume a bit.

I think that saying “you” allows you to get out of responsibility for something. If you say “I”, then you are owning it. (How’s that for a confusing you/I sentence?) Anyway, I often find myself saying “you” on fluther, and I try to stop myself whenever I can.

With ads that @Fly was talking about, I’m the other way around. If someone says “I” I trust them more than if they say you.

Another thing I try to avoid here on fluther is telling people things. You should this and you should that. I prefer to tell people stories from my life, and perhaps what I learned from it, but really I just want them to get from it what they find useful. I’m not giving advice; I’m just sharing experience. This takes the pressure off of others. They don’t have to respond—yeah, that’s a good idea or a bad one. No judgment is required. It’s just there—useful or not.

I also ask my questions, usually, in an attempt to give people a way out of providing advice and into sharing experience. I get so much more from other people’s experience. Advice? Meh. I don’t know where the advice-giver is coming from, so I can’t tell if the advice is any good or not. It’s only when someone tells me a story that I can see if their advice comes from a place of experience or if it is made up.

roundsquare's avatar

Its probably a strategy used in tv and radio to get the viewer more involved.

Trillian's avatar

@wundayatta “I think that saying “you” allows you to get out of responsibility for something. If you say “I”, then you are owning it. (How’s that for a confusing you/I sentence?) Anyway, I often find myself saying “you” on fluther, and I try to stop myself whenever I can.

With ads that @Fly was talking about, I’m the other way around. If someone says “I” I trust them more than if they say you.”
Thank you. I also think that it is a way of distancing and taking oneself out of the equation.
I was watching the McVeigh tapes and he did the same thing. I’ll bet that he wasn’t coached, and I noticed while i watched that there were specific times that he did say “I”. Generally when he was taking credit or emphasizing the point of how calm and under control he was.
Whichever is the case, I personally don’t like it. I find it distracting and irritating, and I frequently talk back to the tv, arguing what the person said; “What do you mean my heart was pounding? No it wasn’t, I wasn’t even there. Idiot.”

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

The Internet makes it very easy to disconnect physically. This removes a big component of human interaction.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well at least it’s not the “Royal We” as in times past. Talk about pretentious :)

I do hear the “we” on talk shows sometimes on the part of an actor describing upcoming roles. I always find myself mentally correcting them. There is only one of you playing that role not several of you !

filmfann's avatar

The substituting of You for I is a device to engage the listener. Instead of just listening to a story, you can envision yourself as being part of it.

thriftymaid's avatar

It’s simply a style of writing; first person or otherwise.

flo's avatar

Maybe people use the “you” because they are telling the listener it is not just them it is a common thing? Commercials are different though, they are there to mislead so…

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I believe there is other evidence that people are becoming more disconnected from one another.

The growth of Twitter is a recent example of how people use mass messaging as a form of communication. The tweeter is conveying trivial information to anyone who will listen.

This is more distant than sending a brief message to one particular person.
It is limited to short bursts of communications.

Before sending text messages became common, people relied on e-mail messages in which the communicator could more fully express ideas and communicate meaningful information. These could be more personal and revealing than text messages.

One on one conversations on the telephone were much more common and intimate than e-mails for immediate “right-now” sharing of thoughts and feelings. E-mail is one side at a time communication and cues to meaning like tone of voice and speaking style are absent.

There was a time when people actually spoke to each other face to face when they wanted to express their feelings and cultivate a relationship.

My point is that over time the most common form of communication used between people has become less personal, intimate, informative and meaningful.

I have been groups of youths walking together texting to each other and or others not present. I know of couples that spend hours of free time on Facebook, rather than interacting in person with each other.

The act of interpersonal communication is falling into disuse in a manner analogous to the decline of hand written letter writing.

These changes do not seem healthy for individuals or society as a whole.

anartist's avatar

It would simplify things if you just went back to saying ‘one’
It would simplify things if one just went back to saying ‘one’, each one separately or all jointly.

However English is even worse at the sex thing. Would each person respond to their email?

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