Rhodri Marsden: Everything's made with 'you' in mind, by which they don't mean me

Life on Marsden


I'm becoming allergic to the word "you". This is problematic, because it's tremendously useful as a second-person pronoun; it allows me to ask people if they'd like anything from the shop, compliment them on their hat and, if I'm sufficiently drunk, tell them that I love them.

But you simply can't – sorry, one simply can't avoid using the word "you" without exploring the dangerous netherworld of "thou" and "ye".

And I'm not going to do that. I don't like drawing attention. I may as well put on a doublet and hose and perform a mystery play.

The source of my mild annoyance? The abuse meted out to the word "you" by advertisers. In order to establish some kind of bogus intimacy they like to address me as if I were their best mate Steve.

This isn't a new thing, of course. Years ago Microsoft asked us "Where do you want to go today?" to which my answer was generally "Paris, for a long, relaxing weekend", not that Microsoft ever arranged anything. Vodafone asked "How are you?" to which my answer was always "disillusioned", at which point the conversation ended.

But now "you" is endemic. You're being you-ised. It's the age of you.

It's youtime. "You" is huskily breathed at you, attempting to flatter you, award-winning you, into forking out for a lawnmower, or bacon, or both.

Everything's made "with you in mind" – by which, of course, they don't mean me, they mean human beings. "With this range of new heat-resistant black nylon egg whisks, we've decided to ignore the needs of the elk and cater exclusively for humans. It's not made with the elk in mind. Oh no. This is for you."

My breaking point came last week at Heathrow Airport. Just beyond passport control there was a Lufthansa advert that read "Non-stop you". I've literally no idea what is meant by non-stop me, but I'd say firstly that I'm already experiencing non-stop me – I have been since October 1971 – and secondly, it's really not all that great.

Don't try and sell me back to me; I've been using the product for 41 years and was already thinking of trying to get my money back. Then I turned a corner and saw a poster referring to the new Terminal 2 as "Terminal You", at which point I sighed and went to Hamburg.

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