Here’s the deal. It’s time to explore another reader’s suggestion, and my thanks to Stephanie for being irked by today’s topic. There really is no good reason to refer to oneself in the third person, but let’s take a closer look at this disorder.
Firstly, a grammar school refresher course. You’ve got the first person, as in, “I am now speaking in the first person.” This is the preferred/normal way of communicating with others. Then, you’ve got your second person, useful in instruction manuals, the beginning of this very sentence, and those classic Choose Your Own Adventure books from my childhood (“You are now face to face with an eight-foot tall Yeti. If you want to run in fear, turn to page 67. If you decide to poke the Yeti with a stick, turn to page 93.”) Lastly, you’ve got third person – “He realized that his decision to poke the Yeti was ill-advised.” The fact that most fiction is written in the third person does not make it an acceptable way for you to refer to yourself.
This way of speaking is generally reserved for two types of people. Not unlike the royal we, referring to oneself in the third person is often a sign of extreme narcissism and can be found in high ranking politicians and superstar athletes. Practitioners of illeism (don’t worry, I just learned this word myself, apparently it’s common enough to have a name, who knew?) include Bob Dole, who would go around saying things like, “You can trust Bob Dole,” somehow not realizing that the very way he chose to say he could be trusted made him sound less trustworthy. Or how about LeBron James? He once said, “LeBron stays humble by just being LeBron.” Sure. That sounds plenty humble.
The second group of third person referrers are those who lack basic linguistic skills. This may be because they are muscular brutes with low mental abilities (as in, “Hulk smash,” or “Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?”). Sometimes it’s because they are too young to have yet learned how to speak correctly, as in, “Elmo loves you.” Or it could be that English is their second language – “Miyagi hate fighting.” It could even be that they have only recently become sentient beings, “Number Five is alive!”
Whatever the reason, it’s not positive. This type of communication never comes off well.
So, how am I going to do it? How will Makya stop people from referring to themselves in the third person? I have an idea. I’m inventing a fourth person. When speaking in the fourth person, there is no “I,” “you,” or “he/she.” In the fourth person all names and pronouns are replaced with “Greg.” We used to have complicated sentences like, “Sally and I went to the park to meet her mom, once there we saw that she had brought a picnic lunch and we had a lovely afternoon.” Sally who? I what? Where? Who’s “we”? What’s going on here? Don’t worry. With fourth person, it now reads, “Greg and Greg went to the park to meet Greg, once there Greg saw that Greg had brought a picnic lunch and Greg had a lovely afternoon.” Nice and simple. And, unless you’re name is Greg, no one will ever again be able to refer to themselves in the third person. And, come on, how many people are named Greg anyway?
I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t it okay sometimes? Number Five is alive? That’s funny. I like Short Circuit.” No. You only think you like Short Circuit. You remember it fondly because you were twelve when you saw it and thought it was cool. It wasn’t. Fisher Stevens inexplicably playing an Indian man? Ally Sheedy spinning around in ecstasy as she dances with a robot? Steve Guttenberg? Come on, people. This is the type of nonsense that this third personing leads to. It must be stopped. And that’s all Greg has to say on the matter.