Have you noticed how many of us have developed major “I” problems during the last few years? We and our have been replaced by I, me, and mine. Obviously, we have become exceedingly self-centered while trying to build very large self-images that will impress someone.
We may expect children to lay claim to everything in sight and to dwell on themselves, their wants and wishes, but they used to outgrow such selfishness with the help of their parents. Parents would begin to explain early on that most ownership was shared by those who lived in the home; thus, plural pronouns were introduced, and most property became ours or theirs. Even many accomplishments were shared rather than being claimed as solo actions.
Somewhere along the way, we have lost sight of those plural pronouns and have replaced them almost entirely with the singular ones. Whether or not we own something together, it becomes mine. Even though several of us may have been involved in doing even a small chore, the story seems to be told from the first person point-of-view and winds up with I did that today.
Maybe we just aren’t comfortable with ourselves and feel that we should brag about our accomplishments by using that first person singular. That may make us think that others will see just how important we are when they really see us as weaklings who have the need to make noise about accomplishments made by others. Because we are uncomfortable, we may have the notion that others will detect that unless we talk about all we have done, with the focus remaining on me.
Obviously, the first person singular pronouns should be used when used correctly and then stored for the next time they are needed. When a person really has done something alone or really owns something, he would sound rather foolish were he to use plural pronouns. For instance, those of us who live alone would sound plumb daft were we to use plural pronouns at all times. If I were to say, “We washed the dishes last night,” you might get the idea the Aggie did the washing while I did the drying. Saying, “We are writing this column” would also give an erroneous picture.
By the same token, if I were to talk about the contents of my museum, you might want to report to the board that some changes need to be made. Even if I claimed to have written the history of Quay County by myself, I would surely be misleading a lot of people because that was most definitely not a solo accomplishment.
We almost seem to be playing a game of “Can you top this” as we try to build ourselves into giants. We surely should have outgrown the need for such attention by the time we became adults, but many of us have retained the need to be self-centered and will probably continue to have “I” problems until we finally become comfortable with merely being ourselves. I am comfortable most of the time. Are you?