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To We or not to We - 2010, December 8 / IDEAS

This is about the abuse of the first-person plural, or WE-Syndrome. WS is nicely demonstrated by the British Comedy duo, Mitchell & Webb, using the example of a typical sports fanatic:

Gary Brecher:
“Most people are not rational, they are TRIBAL: “my gang yay, your gang boo!” It really is that simple. The rest is cosmetics.”
If only WE-syndrome was limited to sports fans! When reading sites like for analysis of Peak Oil and resource news, WE-syndrome is there as sure as herpes. Comments such as these are common:
“WE need to build x amount of solar panels…”; “All WE need to do is switch to Geothermal…”; “Once WE make breakthroughs in thin-film solar panels…” etc. etc. etc
Who is this “WE”?

We-people write as if they were part of a collective, sharing mutual influence and power (having a "national conversation", as in that awful PR cliche). In thread after thread, various individuals will propose the solution. It always involved “US”…and “OUR” options…things that “WE” would do to solve the problem. The delusion of 'having a say' serves to distract these people from the fact that they're impotent.

Systemic problems do have systemic solutions - but sadly, any attempts at collective action are soon hampered by the inability of the participants to engage in any real, meaningful action (the sort that requires real-world we-ness).

On the SF website, this abuse of “WE” can reach comical proportions, where writing in the first person plural is the 'house style'. At the announcement of a new scientific breakthrough, the headline will almost invariably be a variant of “WE may have made an amazing breakthrough in materials…”, or “WE have found an amazing new planet”. Correction! WE did no such thing. Scientists and engineers, after years of rigorous study, hard work and sacrifice have made the discovery or breakthrough. WE did diddly squat, other than READ about it on the internet – and fund it through a very small percentage of total taxation.

Whenever there’s a dark story on the above mentioned, there’s an abrupt difference in emphasis. A recent example being the accidental destruction of a rare beach ecosystem caused by the filming of the TV show “Game of Thrones”. The article read:
“…one environmentalist is calling HBO real-life (bad guys): They covered a protected beach in Malta with fake sand, resulting in “total elimination” of the ecosystem.”.
It did not read:
“WE may have destroyed a rare ecosystem”.
Why is it “WE” when something good happens, but “THEY” when something bad happens? This is the "I didn't do it" mentality of Bart Simpson.

If a new Pixar movie comes out, would the headline read:
“WE have just made another animated classic”?
The idea is absurd and insulting to the animators who toiled for years on the project - but it’s no less silly to take credit for scientific breakthroughs that belong to others, surely?

Doug Stanhope gets comedy out of the Xenophopic/Chickenhawk/Jingo abuse of We:
And deep ecologist Derrick Jensen (who, ironically, over-uses the first person frequently) does a funny takedown of “WE”, and exposes the psychological process of “Identification” that underlies it.