Why “we”?

From the Department of Random Pontification:

What is it with the cancer of “we” which has spread through so-called ‘serious’ journalism in recent years?

It really irks me. It’s prevalent in the mainstream online and print media, and in most ‘serious’ media sites in various niches – entertainment, technology, whatever. People who write opinion pieces apparently all got a memo a decade or so back to talk about “we” all the time.

They don’t write “I think some people use Facebook too much”, they write “We all use Facebook too much”. They don’t write “Is your email box overflowing?”, they write “We all suffer from overflowing mailboxes”. And so on.

I guess the idea is to sound all inclusive and not as if you’re condescending to the reader, but for me at least it falls flat on its face, because half the time it feels like I’m being accused of something. I don’t use Facebook too much, thanks. Maybe you do. Maybe some other people do, I don’t know. But writing ‘we’ seems to be a presumption too far. Ditto with overflowing mailboxes, social anxiety or whatever else it is ‘we’ are apparently all suffering from this week, in the opinion of whatever editorial writer I happen to be reading at the time.

Opinion piece writers of the world, ‘we’ don’t all have your problems. If you want to write about your own problems, fine. If you want to state that other people have them, find some other people and define that set accurately. Don’t co-opt the entire rest of the world as fellow sufferers of whatever affliction you’re dealing with…

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