Principia Discordia > Think for Yourself, Schmuck!

Who are "They"?

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Aw fuck, now I really have to steal my housemate's copy of "Acts of Meaning".  It actually studies the whole idea of shared paradigm and where it all came from - who's the "they" in "they say" and all that.

I'll actually contribute something meaningful once I make sense of the book.  I always blow standardized tests out of the water...except in reading comprehension.  My brain just doesn't make the same conclusions the testmakers do, I guess. :)

i'd like to give a meaningful explanation of "they," but i'd rather just be honest. "they" is what you, or i anyway, say when there's something going on that you don't like and have no power to change, and you're too lazy to actually find out who or what is responsible.  it's easier to say "THEY did it."

"they" don't really exist.  "they" are a convenient abstract proxy, like "God" but even closer to our minds, that exists because of our inherent need to encapsulate and compartmentalize everything.  "their" identity changes as fast as the context of the discussion, but seldom (except in sloppy speech) do those in the discussion lose track of who "they" are at any given point.

They is what we were before we were us.

They refers back to a subset of those who are not us, but could be us, at any point in the past or future.

I don't find the referentials negative at the outset, as in the us factor, either.  It's all in context.

Maybe that's just the linguist in me talking.

Triple Zero:
well i think it's important that we differentiate between the two types of "they" we often use on these boards:

1 - just coming back from the bathroom, John finds that half his friends have gone out to get some pizza "where did they go?", he asks to the rest.

2 - They want you to be as productive as possible until you're 70.

the first case is just the regular way of referring to a group of people in third person. nothing much out of the ordinary with that (i guess).

the second case, and i agree with vex here, often used when people are too lazy to find out what's really going on. though if you just want to make a point, it can be very useful to take a shortcut like that.
though in such cases i think it would be a bit more useful to word your statement in terms of he Machine or something, if you want to speak as They/Them as some actual anonymous entity, just to make it obvious that you couldn't point out who "They" are, but that They are made up of the sum of stupidity of humanity or some other emergent property of our race.

In the second case, you're speaking of a meme, a "sense".  It seems to be an anthropomorphication (christ, is that a word?) of a paradigm that has been set in motion by general attitudes, not by specific people. 

Humans seem to want to make non-sentient things "human".  This is one more example.


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